back to college...on cash only. anyone else? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I went back to school last year, taking prerequisite classes for an RN program. My husband and I agreed that we'd rather it take a few years for me to finish the program than to go into debt for it, especially since I already have a BA, and if he died I could find employment with my current degree. (I am a sahm/student right now).

Anyway, here I am, plugging away one or two classes per semester, and after the class I'm taking now I'm done with all the requirements for the RN (chemistry, math, etc) except for the actual nursing classes. It hasn't been too difficult financially so far, but when I start the nursing program I'll be paying for 9 or more hours of tuition per semester, so we're really going to be belt-tightening to be able to do it all in cash.

Is (or has) anyone back in college without any student loans? I have friends who think I'm nuts for doing it this way, reasoning that if I just took out a loan I could have been done and working already, and paying the loan off. It would be great to have a little support group going here (If there is already one please point me to it, my search skills on MDC fail)
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#2 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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Not to be a downer, but a friend of mine graduated from nursing school last year and most of her classmates did not find work after graduation. She was one of the lucky few.

With the economy and the job market the way it is, I wouldn't count on being able to get work, and I would keep plugging away on a cash basis, like you're doing.

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#3 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Not to be a downer, but a friend of mine graduated from nursing school last year and most of her classmates did not find work after graduation. She was one of the lucky few.

With the economy and the job market the way it is, I wouldn't count on being able to get work, and I would keep plugging away on a cash basis, like you're doing.
I'm really surprised to hear that you know a lot of RNs who can not find work. There is a chronic shortage here and I see advertisements all the time for signing bonuses to fill immediate openings. I had to get a CNA license as part of the nursing school application and I started receiving solicitations from employers in the mail when my name made it onto the state licensing registry site.

Thank you for the support in regard to doing this on a cash basis though, and I hope your nurse friends find work soon!
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#4 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 02:04 PM
 
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Why pay for it at all? you are intending on working once you graduate- so sign with a hospital now and they will pay for it in return for a 3 year contract. If you don't fulfill the contract you will have to repay- but if you do work there the 3 years you owe nothing. I suppose it depends on your area- but here there is a lack of nurses as well.

Iowaorganic- mama to DD (1/5/06), DS1 (4/9/07), DS2 (1/22/09), DS3 (12/10/10), DD2 (7/6/12) and a new kid due in early 2014

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#5 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 02:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you don't fulfill the contract you will have to repay-
I have heard rumors of this kind of deal- but this is why I haven't sought this out. Who knows what the future holds? It is just another kind of indebtedness.
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#6 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 02:33 PM
 
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I am seriously considering going back as well, it would be cash only. I am an RN but want my MSN, if I go part time then the first year wouldn't be so bad but then the price goes up (for the program I want), it will be harder but I think we can do it. I am starting a new part time job next week and I think I might just sock away most of that money so when the huge tuition bills start then we could swing it.


It really just depends on the area for nursing jobs, in some areas there are nothing, others are still doing well. I have a friend graduating this spring and she says in her area that there is nothing, several students from last year's class where unable to find jobs in the area. The local paper here used to be be full of nursing positions, now I rarely see any and when I do it is a speciality position requiring several years of experience. I was fortunate enough that there are few RN's in my area that are in my specialty so when a position became available, my employer sought me out despite me not currently looking.

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#7 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 03:18 PM
 
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My dh made it through a year and a half of pre-reqs without any debt and in August he will be starting the 2 year program. We were on foodstamps and MediCal and my husband worked 30 hours a week at a job that didn't pay much but allowed him to study half the time he was there. We got some financial aid through the school too. During this first year and a half we had our 2nd child and even had to pay 2k for a homebirth.

We plan to do the same thing for the 2 year program, switching to a CNA job the second year. I stay at home to homeschool our children and work as hard as I can at saving money. If things get to be to hard on dh we know that we can take out some loans and it won't be the end of the world. We live very frugally and could make it through with only 6-10k of debt if we had too. Being debt free is the goal and something we strive for every day, but it is not the end all and I have never been a purist on anything.

I have a friend who just graduated nursing school and she worked very hard to make it through debt free and she succeeded. She worked 2 jobs and schooled full time, had no life, but she did it. Now she wonders why she didn't take out just a few, b/c now her pay rate has tripled and she has much more money then she needs to live off of. By telling this story, I'm not saying live it up and go into debt, it's just another view point that I found interesting.

We have a goal for why we want to be debt free. When dh gets out of nursing school we plan to put half of his income into savings so we can buy land. This is really our ultimate goal, a farm with no debt and working as little as possible. If just living your life as a nurse is your goal then a little bit of debt to get yourself there faster would be a reasonable thing, which is probably where your friends are coming from.

I rambled on long enough, hope this helps and good luck!

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#8 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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My brother is now working on his master's degree and has not gone into debt for any of his schooling. He is married, his wife is a sahm, and has two kids. He works full time and goes to school at night and on weekends. They have done it a little different though in that they put all school costs onto a credit card at the begining of each semester and then pay it off during the semester. They have been successful in doing this each semester and have never carried any amount over to the next... pretty impressive, I think.

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#9 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 04:03 PM
 
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This is what we're looking at doing. The discussion right now is which of us goes back first.

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#10 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 04:27 PM
 
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Ok- but why not investigate contracting with a hospital at least? You are gauranteed a job- My sisters contract hospital even would let her work as a fill in (like 1 shift/mo) to fulfill the terms. I agree that life happens- but why not at least check it out?

Iowaorganic- mama to DD (1/5/06), DS1 (4/9/07), DS2 (1/22/09), DS3 (12/10/10), DD2 (7/6/12) and a new kid due in early 2014

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#11 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 04:55 PM
 
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That's how both dh and I got our masters degrees.
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#12 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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I have a friend who firmly believes that she should not pay for school (wish I'd had this perspective, but, with more lawyers than this country needs, not too many of those degrees are paid for by someone else, LOL!). She is currently pursuing her PhD (and what I've heard from my other PhD degreed friends is that no one should pay for a PhD). In any event, in this case she is doing it through a combination of scholarships and working for her department.

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#13 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 05:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PajamaMama View Post
I have heard rumors of this kind of deal- but this is why I haven't sought this out. Who knows what the future holds? It is just another kind of indebtedness.
I plan on going back to school for nursing, and our local hospitals offer that sort of program. It works out for me because my DP is a tenured professor and we won't be moving. I'm also looking into scholarships.

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#14 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 05:36 PM
 
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I made it through undergrad without debt, but that's because my state pays for college (lottery funded scholarship program).

In my area, RNs are having a hard time finding jobs. I graduated in 1997, and this is the tightest I've seen the job market. But...the economy will turn around, and then nursing jobs will be plentiful again. People always get sick and have babies.

I wish I had gone to grad school debt-free. I so did NOT, and I'm really paying for it now.
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#15 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 05:37 PM
 
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There is a trade off. Nursing programs are intense, and you will be making a lot of money when you graduate. Might not be in a hospital, but in other places. I know getting a hospital job is the gold 'seal' in nursing, but there are other tracks that pay just as well.

OP, look into a second degree BSN. I don't know where you are, but there are some schools that recognize a previous BA/BS, and let you skip those two years of general education and put you right into the nursing part. They will graduate you with a BSN in a year to 18 months, from what I've heard.

If not that, look into a Master's program that allows non-BSN students to apply. You need to finish the pre-reqs, then just apply.

I'm currently figuring this out myself. Only, I can't afford 10k a year for grad school. I'm thinking of taking out loans for the first two years until I get all the coursework to pass the licensing test. Then finding a job while paying for the last year of grad classes. That way, I'd be owing 20k. I'm interested in Nursing Administration, and from my research, pay here starts at 100k. I could easily pay off that 20k loan in the first year.

From what I've seen, finding a job is all about networking. My sister graduated last year in nursing and a lot of her friends had trouble finding jobs. However, she was a really good student and constantly in touch with her professors. Her professor let her know of openings that weren't publicly listed. Had the licensing board not messed up, my sister would be in a position paying 100k right now, all due to her teacher's network. So it can be done. Make friends with your professors--they won't bite!

Ami

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#16 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 07:07 PM
 
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We did this and it retrospect, it was the best financial decision ever. Hubby graduated last year and can't find a job. But you know what? No loan payments. It helps with the bitterness.

The only thing I would suggest is to make sure your nursing program is through an accredited university/college etc. There was a big article this weekend on trade schools and how they are basically legal scams....unaccredited courses etc. You probably already know this, but I thought I'd mention it for anyone thinking of investing in education.
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#17 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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I'm interested in Nursing Administration, and from my research, pay here starts at 100k. I could easily pay off that 20k loan in the first year.


Ami
Nursing pay is very dependent on where you live. I live in the south. Nursing jobs are not unionized here (very few jobs outside of the trades are), and our pay is lower than in unionized states.

The last I heard (last spring), some of my friends were being offered around $19-$20/hour for new grad pay. Yes, if you work nights (and most new grads do), you'll make usually $3/hour more. But, it's a 36 hour work week, and overtime is hard to come by these days. So, around $42,000/year.

Now, I loved nursing, and I would encourage anyone to go into the field. But, to think that you'll come out making $100K isn't the reality in a lot of parts of the country.
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#18 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 08:32 PM
 
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Nursing pay is very dependent on where you live. I live in the south. Nursing jobs are not unionized here (very few jobs outside of the trades are), and our pay is lower than in unionized states.

The last I heard (last spring), some of my friends were being offered around $19-$20/hour for new grad pay. Yes, if you work nights (and most new grads do), you'll make usually $3/hour more. But, it's a 36 hour work week, and overtime is hard to come by these days. So, around $42,000/year.

Now, I loved nursing, and I would encourage anyone to go into the field. But, to think that you'll come out making $100K isn't the reality in a lot of parts of the country.
A person with a BSN here is looking to make between 60-75k starting. Which, considering the higher cost of CA, might just be translatable to 42k in other, lower cost states.

The degree I will be looking at is a higher one (masters). As an administrative position, in CA, it starts at 100k. As a nurse administrator you are really the 'charge' nurse or even above her. So, not doing much 'nurse stuff', like putting in IVs, etc. But it's not a highly sought after job in the sense you are balancing business needs of the hospital with nursing staff needs.

Anyways, all this to say, research, research, research!

To get my BSN I think at most I'd have 5k in loans (doing a second degree BSN degree). Not bad, even with 42k in starting salary.

Ami

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#19 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 08:40 PM
 
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Yeah, nursing pay here stinks.

I have a masters' too (but clinical). Starting pay for my profession is around $55,000 in my state.
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#20 of 21 Old 03-16-2010, 10:52 PM
 
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Yeah, nursing pay here stinks.

I have a masters' too (but clinical). Starting pay for my profession is around $55,000 in my state.
Kinda off topic, but my Chem teacher told me that her friend, a nurse who specialized in anesthesia (I don't think she's a nurse anesthetist, more of an assistant), was offered a job in Wisconsin. Here she gets paid around 100k. There they were offering her 200k+. Apparently there's a huge shortage there, and therefore higher pay. I nearly died hearing that.

I'm curious, how much is the median income in your area/state? It's super high here, at least 50k, I think. We're not making anywhere near that right now, but looking around us, yea, many people seem to be making that. And with both parents working, average family income hovers near 100k.

Compared to 'median income' a nurse making 75k isn't that much of a stretch, at least here. Gosh, I'd feel rich at 75k.

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#21 of 21 Old 03-17-2010, 02:31 AM
 
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I'm an "anyone else."

This is a timely discussion for me. I did not go into debt for my undergraduate degree, and am determined to find a way now to do my masters with at least very minimal amounts of debt.

I would love any guidance anyone can offer. Here are my stats:
1. I have been admitted with a full tuition scholarship, but still need money for fees, books, commuting expenses (unless we sell or rent out our house and move), etc.
2. I also have not been offered a living expense stipend, which some schools do offer to some students.
3. I have been the primary "breadwinner" in my family. My dw has limited earning potential. However, I am not sure that I can succesfully go to school and work at the same time, at least not work full-time as I am now. Thus we will have a near $0 income if I accept this offer until dw finds more work (she currently is doing in-home childcare, which does help out a lot, but she has no kids lined up as of summer and I am not sure she can continue doing it and stay sane).
4. If we are able to sell or rent out our house and move closer to the school, where housing is cheaper, we could probably reduce our monthly expenses by $300-400. If we can find a rental with utilities included, the savings will be even greater.
5. Renting out our house is complicated by it being an older home in a state with extremely strict lead laws for rentals and us having a pool (no yard, just a pool...nothing at all fancy, but it is a part of our investment here and needs care to stay in good condition).
6. If dw gets a job outside the home, her maximum earning potential (pre-tax) is probably a little over 50% of what we need monthly for survival. Then we'd have taxes and the cost of a significant number of hours for childcare.

If we lived on loans, we could easily surpass $50,000 in debt during my time in school...maybe even get up to the $80,000 range total. That is clearly not wise.

Thoughts on our steps:
1. We have inquired with our realtor about selling our house and it looks like we'd take a significant financial loss in doing so, which isn't feasible (we'd have to sell for under the value of our loan, for example). Thus our best bet is to rent out the house, and I am looking into doing that currently.
2. dw needs to find a job, with flexible hours so we don't have increased costs related to childcare. Even if she can't earn a lot, every bit will help.
3. I need to apply for additional scholarships and grants.
4. Once I quit work, or reduce my hours, depending on which I do, we need to apply for foodstamps.

What else can we do? I have been offerred a slot in a program at Yale, for example, and would hate to give that up for financial reasons but even with the full tuition scholarship I am not in a good position. I sure wish dw had greater earning potential!

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