I am probably going to be offered an assistantship for my second year master's. Full tuition and $6000 a year stipend. To take it I will (probably) need to give up my part-time job. The money is essentially the same; the amount of hours is about the same. But if I keep my part-time job, I have more salary and more flexibility because I will probably pay some cash for my tuition and put some on student loans. My student loan debt is not huge and I will be able to pay the whole thing back from divorce settlement. I will also be getting money from other sources such as alimony and child support. To get the assistantship I need to be in school full-time (9 credits) and I only need 12 to graduate but I am also working on a Certificate in another department so I was going to take the extra credits anyway. I feel like the assistantship is an opportunity to make connections, learn more research skills, organize events, etc. But I give up a job that seems secure (but really may not be because it is a "temporary" job that I will have had for two years. That part-time job might help me through the period of time between when I graduate and when I find full-time work. By then that part-time job will be worth nearly $18000 a year, which with child support and other funding I could live on. But receiving the assistantship would put me in better shape (probably) to get a better job and/or to receive another assistantship for a PhD. And I am not a young person (although I feel like on in a good way!). I am 48, but I will have some fairly decent retirement money and a cash cushion when the divorce is final (in 6 months or so). I am fairly energetic and organized, but I am pretty sure I can't do grad school full-time and work two part-time jobs and still take care of my kids. Although I have considered it. I can probably get work tutoring as well because I do that now and other bits of work here and there. I may get other scholarship money as well.
This is really a question of giving up cash now for less debt later and giving up security now for potential growth. And how all of it is going to affect my children. I will also be giving up paid vacation and sick days, although I don't anticipate that my department will be a stickler about me leaving early if my kids are sick, etc.
If you read this far, thanks.