How do you go back to school with a family? - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-13-2011, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband has a masters degree in his field, but we are desperately wanting to find a new job for him.  We think the best option might be to change fields.  These jobs won't pay enough for us to live on unless he goes back to school, which is something he's kind of always wanted anyway.

 

We have two young kids, a mortgage, my school loans, and insurance payments.  Even, if he gets an assistantship - which I think he can - how do we pay our living expenses/bills?  We live very frugally.  We don't have cell phones, or cable, and we don't go out much.  I don't think we can cut back in any other way.

 

I feel like this is a dumb question. People do it all the time right?  Did you get a loan to pay your living expenses?  Or did the spouse go to work.  I don't know that I could get a job that would pay all of our bills now. 


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Old 05-13-2011, 02:06 PM
 
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My dh is currently in school.  He's been in a few years and has 1 year left.

 

He started out working full time and taking 2 or 3 classes.  It was really hard.  Right now, he's working part time and in a full time program.  I work full time and have the entire time he's been in school.  Things are tight but we make do.  He applies and gets several grants every semester which help alot.  Like this upcoming summer semester.  His grant will pay for him to live in another town while he interns.

 

There are tons of financial options out there.  If you already have student loans, I wouldn't think taking out more would be my first choice.  Look into all the financial aid stuff and see what he can get. 

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Old 05-13-2011, 04:41 PM
 
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I am a single mom and went 'back to school' for a teaching certificate.  I went during the evening and was able to work during the day and took out student loans (stupid).  Then when I did student teaching I really couldn't work (well I could work nights and weekends then but the ST was awful and drove me nuts for 12 wks).   The process took me 18 mos but I could've finished in under 12 mos had I been on the ball with scheduling classes.

 

I think the key to adult learning or any post secondary education is not to remove yourself from the workforce. I may get flack for saying that but I feel keeping an income is very important as well as keeping yourself in the job market.  yes it creates stress but imo its worth it.

 

Something I learned along time ago is to make up a chart of all the hours in a a week and break them down into 15 mins segments and schedule where everyone needs to be and see where person A and person B can pick up work.  That could mean you work an overnight shift at times or DH works from 6am-2pm then takes classes from 3pm-7pm before you run out the door.  

 

Also dont feel like DH needs to take classes full time or in a traditional setting. He can research online classes too.

 

Make sure DH researches out the new career before starting the education process.   I now have a teaching cert but there are huge educational budget cuts.  (I can sub all I want but full time jobs in my area of concentration are few and very far between)

 

 


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Old 05-13-2011, 04:55 PM
 
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Can he take evening, weekend, or online classes (or a combo)?  I don't know how he could quit working, if he's the sole provider for your family (at least it wouldn't work out in my family if DH wanted to only go to school).  A lot of people get their master's degree while working full-time; my brother is finishing up an MBA -- it's just a lot of work for a year or two, but worth it in the end. 

 

I guess it depends on what he wants to go to school for - if it's something like physical therapy or similar, then those programs tend to be full-time, and they usually won't let students work.  In that case, I guess it's more student loans if you don't have enough savings to live off of - or you are unable to work for a few years while he goes back to school.

 

I definitely agree with doing a lot of research vs. him jumping into something he thinks he would enjoy doing or is known to make a higher salary.  A lot of fields are flooded right now and the jobs are just not there (ie nursing, education, legal, etc).  It's hard to know what it will be like in a couple of years, but statistically, there will continue to be more and more graduates and not near enough jobs. 


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Old 05-13-2011, 05:03 PM
 
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DH is currently studying for his masters. He works full time and takes night classes part time (2 at a time). I'm a SAHM, part time Distance Learning (online) student also. We are broke most of the time but its ok.


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Old 05-13-2011, 06:05 PM
 
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Around here most master's programs are offered at night.  State schools are the best price usually but some private schools seem to work out good deals where you can get done faster.  Some people I know got done in one year.  There are also on-line programs.  I would think that the best thing would be to keep working and take one or two classes a semester.  He might get done with an elective on-line over the summer too but make sure the program will take the credit first.  I financed my masters partly with a loan but paid cash where I could and just was awarded the assistantship for my last year.  It only pays the tuition and a VERY small stipend.  Certainly could not be lived on.  There are some scholarships for masters level but they are very few.  I would really avoid debt if at all possible. I will have enough cash to repay mine when the divorce is final.  Otherwise I would have live more frugally and paid more cash.  I am pretty frugal, but I do have a couple of small extras.  Also, I have tutored, worked several part-time jobs and sold books on Amazon, all of which help.  But I could not have managed to support my kids with my ex's support, really.  Work and go to school part-time if he is sole support. 

 

I also would suggest looking for part-time or full-time jobs at universities.  Many offer free tuition, although usually only for full-time after a year.  I work as a clerk typist at the university and I do not get tuition but for what I do it is a good payrate and a decent fairly secure job. 

 

 

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Old 05-13-2011, 06:13 PM
 
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I'm considering going back to school for a Master's.  We don't have kids, but we have jobs and a mortgage like you do.  If I go back, it will be completely online through a state university.  DH is working on his bachelor's right now, also online through a different state university.  When I was finishing up my bachelor's degree, online courses were just getting common.  The last two semesters I took online classes, and it was SUCH an improvement to having to work full-time at night and go to school full-time during the day.  I still worked full-time at night, but I could do my classwork at my own pace, whenever I had time to fit it in.  That way, instead of feeling like I had two full-time jobs, I was able to quickly get through school stuff, not spend my whole life traveling to lectures that just went over the same stuff the readings were full of, and I wasn't constantly running between work and campus.  I highly, highly recommend online, if you can work it that way.  More family time, less trouble keeping up with jobs, less chance of missing a days' work and losing that money, etc.


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Old 05-14-2011, 09:42 AM
 
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It's hard, but it's doable.  For the last 18 months, DH and I have been full time students, (I was doing a program that was just a couple nights a week) and I have been a full time worker outside of the home as well.  

I started working part time and we had minimal child care (maybe 6 hours a week).  I got offered a promotion and took full time.  For the last year we found a nanny from one of the local churches who was very reasonable and she has had DD 3-4 times/wk for a couple hours.  We are in CA where there are some incredible financial aid opportunities, without those we would have a lot more student loans.  DH was awarded the Pell Grant also, so whatever we didn't spend on books we cashed out and set aside to pay the nanny.  We did end up taking out a couple of student loans to cover 'surprises' (please read sucky root canal & car malfunctions :)) that came up.  

I do have some friends in the same boat, they decided that they didn't want mama to work outside the home, so yes, they just took out student loans for living expenses.  Both scenarios work, you just have to decide what's best for your family.  

 

ETA: just re read your post, even if you can't get a job that will cover all of your expenses (we had our times of pulling out the credit card when we couldn't quite cover everything), it really gave me a lot of peace of mind to know that there was at least some cash flow, and not feeling like we were burrying ourselves in student loans.  

 

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Old 05-14-2011, 10:01 AM
 
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We did it for a semester (which included a cross-country move then a move back home again) and borrowed tuition and books and a computer through student loans. DH is trying something new next fall, and that we will have saved up for so there will be no loans.

 

Since moving home we've repaid the $11,000 student loan and managed to save for next year by moving our family from a 3BR house to a 1BR apartment. It's also allowed us to ditch our second car. By renting out our house and letting someone else pay the mortgage, we've cut our living expenses in half. I'd definitely recommend cutting every cost you can and saving over taking out loans.


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Old 05-14-2011, 03:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Something I learned along time ago is to make up a chart of all the hours in a a week and break them down into 15 mins segments and schedule where everyone needs to be and see where person A and person B can pick up work.  That could mean you work an overnight shift at times or DH works from 6am-2pm then takes classes from 3pm-7pm before you run out the door.

The only problem with this schedule is that going to school requires a lot of work outside the classroom (depending on your field of course).  IME, there is a big advantage to having good grades when it comes time for job searches, internships or graduate studies. So, when planning a schedule like that, you do need to factor in study time and time outside the classroom (which for certain schools/fields of study) can be quite extensive.


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Old 05-15-2011, 02:47 PM
 
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Right now, I'm working 10pm-7am to save up for my going to school, while dh works 8am-5pm to pay our bills. I would really recommend that you guys look at your budget and how you can save to pay for school in cash rather than taking out more loans.


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Old 05-15-2011, 04:29 PM
 
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I'm interested in going back to school too (I have a Master's and would do either a second master leading on to a PhD or maybe a PhD if they would let me). But I have decided that I will only do so if I didn't incur any debt whatsoever. The Masters has a tuition waiver if you get in and possibly a stipend. The PhD has a tuition waiver plus a min of $12k stipend, so ironically we would be doing much, much better! There's also a faculty dependents scholarship which I would be eligible for - it's $3k a year and because the tuition would be paid for already, we would get that in hand, essentially.

 

I would also be able to keep my part time job (a few days a month), so we would be the same or better off for the most part. I also wouldn't go back until my eldest started school (a year from Sept) so if we needed more childcare for DS it wouldn't affect our finances.

 

I just cannot justify getting our family into more student debt when the reality (with a PhD and a prof DH) is that I probably wouldn't be able to getmore than sessional work here (spousal hires aren't comon).


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Old 05-16-2011, 10:18 AM
 
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If your DH goes back to school at a major university, check in to see if they have family housing. We lived in Family Housing down the hill from the university and there were lots of other student paretns, families, SAHMs living there. They needed resident managers for family housing, and several of the women were resident managers and in exchange for their work (letting people in when they got locked out, hanging up flyers, organizing events etc.) they got FREE RENT!


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Old 05-16-2011, 02:53 PM
 
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I don't want to hijack this thread. But for those of you who didn't incur debt for school, how in the heck did you pay for it out of pocket?  I was lucky enough to have pell grants that paid for my undergrad but we have debt for dh's teacher certification. Unfortunately I didn't have the foresight to pick an undergrad that actually made me employable. So I'm headed back to school to finish some prereqs and then on to a Masters. It's not the type of field that offers tuition stipends....well maybe for two students out of 40. Obviously I would try for scholarships. But even for a state school tuition is steep. We're living off of a low salary (like the OP) so one of the main reasons I'm heading back to school, so there isn't cash flow to save for tuition.

Obviously not having to take out loans is ideal, just curious to how it's been feasible for others.

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Old 05-16-2011, 04:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by beebalmmama View Post

I don't want to hijack this thread. But for those of you who didn't incur debt for school, how in the heck did you pay for it out of pocket?  I was lucky enough to have pell grants that paid for my undergrad but we have debt for dh's teacher certification. Unfortunately I didn't have the foresight to pick an undergrad that actually made me employable. So I'm headed back to school to finish some prereqs and then on to a Masters. It's not the type of field that offers tuition stipends....well maybe for two students out of 40. Obviously I would try for scholarships. But even for a state school tuition is steep. We're living off of a low salary (like the OP) so one of the main reasons I'm heading back to school, so there isn't cash flow to save for tuition.

Obviously not having to take out loans is ideal, just curious to how it's been feasible for others.


I think this greatly depends on your cash flow - living expenses - school cost ratios.

 

We took out a loan for DH to go to university across the country now instead of waiting to do it locally next year because time was more valuable than waiting to cash-flow it in that scenario. This time around we're back home and DH is going to college so we had the time and resources to cut our living expenses drastically, plan ahead, increase our income, and college's cheaper.

 

I think it takes a careful look at the pros and cons to decide what's right for you. Just be sure that anything your borrowing gets you further ahead in the long run instead of further behind.

 

Even when I was doing my undergrad I worked PT and through the summers. I rang up some minor debt, but it's not like I lived like a queen hemorrhaging money for 4 years only to wake up to tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt in the end. There can be a happy medium if you play your cards right.

 


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Old 05-17-2011, 08:24 AM
 
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How about this - the federal government offers at $2500 tax credit to individuals earning less than $80,000 (adjusted gross income) and families making less than $160,000 adjusted gross income.  That means if you go back to school and incur $2500 in tuition fees each year, you get 100% of this money back in your tax refund.  If you don't have much money or time to spend on school - go it slow and claim this tax refund.  This will enable you to get your degree for free.

 

I am currently a student at a state school in Florida and for this amount, I can get 9 credits/year - meaning I can finish my masters in 5 years (going it slow) - with NO DEBT.

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Old 05-17-2011, 08:59 AM
 
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Originally Posted by eirual View Post

 

I think it takes a careful look at the pros and cons to decide what's right for you. Just be sure that anything your borrowing gets you further ahead in the long run instead of further behind.

 

 



This is kind of what I was figuring in to my whole plan for returning to school. I've spent several years looking at career opportunities (along with having kiddos and staying home off and on) to know that my possibilities are pretty limited with my undergrad degree. Add years of not really being in a career field and the choices seem even less. I've considered a lot of different careers and masters options and have actually changed directions taking into account my earning potential. But the field I've chosed does require some background courses and a fulltime committment once I'm accpetd into the program. So taking 4-5 years to finish isn't an option. Plus the earning potential is so much more that I think we could pay off the loans in five years after if we continue to budget wisely with the new income.

 

We may be able to use some tax return for part of my tuition. I've been wanting to keep most of our last refund for an emergency fund because we spent all our savings on ds's birth and I'm not comfortable without the buffer. I'll have the chance to return to work for a year while I wait to hear if I'm accepted (once I'm done with my prerequisites this year) and so I hope to pay off part or maybe all of the loans I incur this coming year....we'll see.

 

Obviously keeping expenses down is key. Also I worked through my undergrad as well. But now with kiddos in tow......childcare expenses becomes a huge factor when considering what part time jobs are doable.

 

I think if I were the OP I would consider getting a job if her dh would have to be in school fulltime. Otherwise if he can go to school part time and do it over 3-4 years that would be ideal. I think someone mentioned this already but has he really researched the additional income of this new masters, taking into account the added loans and loss of income? I know my dh was wanting to get his Masters in Education. But he came to the field late in life and the income increase, although looks substantial on paper, really doesn't pay off considering the number of years he'll continue to teach vs the added student loans and interst.

 

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Old 05-24-2011, 03:58 PM
 
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We lived off financial aid and part time jobs. I'm about to go back to school online to finish my last semester of my BS and then on to my MS so I can teach part time. Oregon State University online is where I'll finish.

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Old 06-04-2011, 12:10 AM
 
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As far as finances, tuition goes -

 

Look up IDA (individual development account) programs in your community. They are "matching" programs where for every dollar you save, they give you two or three! Up to a certain amount. The money can be used toward certain things, and school is one, usually. Apply! There are usually income restrictions, but as student parents, you might qualify! It's free money!


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Old 06-06-2011, 07:16 PM
 
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I just saw your post... OSU is an awesome school; I received my BS in 2009...

Best decision I made regarding schooling!

Good luck

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Old 06-07-2011, 04:03 PM
 
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I worked full time and supported our family. I spent the first six months on maternity leave and then we hired a nanny when I went back to work. We live on my salary and his investment income. It wasn't what I wanted to do (be a SAHM) but it what was needed. We needed at least one stable source of income and health insurance. Also, I've managed to sock away a lot of money for retirement which will cushion the blow to my retirement savings when the time comes. He choose the school that offerred him a full scholarship, even though it was not his preference. It saved us about $100,000 of debt. When he finds another job/I have another kid, hopefully I'll be able to stay home for awhile.

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Old 06-08-2011, 10:02 AM
 
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I think the frugal thing to do is get a second job and try to pay off those loans before adding more debt, esp. in this economy. Maybe dh could take one class each semester if you can afford to pay cash for it. 

 

I just finished nursing school and we are on a single income. I took my prerequisites at the community college one class at a time. It took 3 years but allowed us to not go into debt over it, and it was not so crazy that I couldn't spend time raising my kids in the process. Then I got into nursing school and that was crazy because it was the fast track program. The great part was I managed to get a full scholarship through a local hospital in exchange for working for them for three years. If I had not been able to get that scholarship, plan B was to get the degree through community college to save $ even though nursing school does require full time classes (unlike the prereq's).

 

I will need to get my Bachelors in Nursing soon as the state requirements are changing. Hoping to get my employer to pay for it, otherwise I will take an online program. I just absolutely refuse to go into debt that I cannot pay off within a month or so. Also, you never know what might come up unexpectedly that will blow your pay-off-debt plan right out of the water such as a major car repair, a hospital bill, etc. 

 

My dh is working towards a second degree too. He is taking on-line classes through a state college, not the one we live in but he found one that does not require out of state tuition for on-line classes. He is able to do it on his time while working full time for our family. At some point he may have to attend classes, but by then I'll be working as a nurse and can support us.

 

Right now we absolutely do not want to go into debt. The point of getting a new career/job is to increase our family's income, not get further into the hole.

 

Good luck! And at all costs, avoid those private schools with the highly inflated tuition!!


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