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Old 06-13-2012, 08:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I posted this in the Working/Student Parents forum, but after re-reading my post, I wonder if here might be a better place? I'm looking for advice on Graduate Assistantship funding and loans. Here's what I posted there:

 

 

I have a Graduate Assistantship for Fall, teaching an Intro Comp class and working in the Writing Center. My MA will be in Written Communication. My grad classes will be two evenings a week. The GAship pays for tuition and a stipend, which is about $850/mo ($8,500 for the Fall/Winter, total). I plan on taking classes in the summer, which the GAship will pay for; however, I won't have the stipend coming in for May-August. I currently have $36k in loans from my UG degree, and was hoping to not take out loans (or minimal loans) for graduate school.

 

However, I'm realizing that the income from the GAship isn't going to make ends meet, and especially with no pay in May-August, I'm not sure how to get by. I should mention that I am a single parent.

 

What do you do? Do you take out a significant amount of loans to pay your living expenses? I figure if I look for work next summer when my stipend isn't paying, I'll be paying for childcare for DD (she's almost 5) and so it kind of defeats the purpose, you know? I don't want to overcommit myself by looking for part-time work in addition to teaching, taking my own classes, and working for my assistantship, but I also don't want to end up with another $20k in loans, either. Apartments are usually about $600-$700 without utilities, and depending on where you live, that gets you a 1 or 2br.

 

Would you take out the loans and save your sanity? How much do you think is reasonable to borrow?

 

I'm hoping, after my MA is done, to find a job teaching at a community college. I will also look for adjunct positions and student affairs jobs as well (though the teaching is what I really need). I may go on for a PhD at some point. I have absolutely no idea what my income will be like post-graduation. If I find a good CC job, it will be decent, but if I'm working as an adjunct, it will be total crap.


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Old 06-13-2012, 08:58 AM
 
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I just finished a year of being a grad assistant.  The class work was brutal, I was writing my thesis and putting in 20 hours a week working for the department.  And I was raising my kids part-time as I share custody with their dad.  I had three offers of other work doing research or tutoring but I simply could not fit it in.  I did maintain an on-line book selling business, but other than that...  and vacations, frankly, I was exhausted and always writing something.  Luckily I did have some child support so we were fine.  But you probably can't live on that income and you shouldn't count on being able to work outside.  Take the absolute minimum of loans that you can, or take the max and stash it earning a smidge of interest so at least it is there if you need it and you can just pay back in a lump sum once you graduate. 

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Old 06-17-2012, 07:57 PM
 
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It's been a while since I was a grad student, but I was in a somewhat similar situation at the time...assistantship paid tuition and a stipend of $900/month with no summer assistantship so I lined up summer work only to then be told that I would have a summer asssitentship. Apparently in my program at least summer assistantships were common but not guaranteed so in the initial contracts year-to-year they generally didn't include a summer assistantship but then each summer, we all got them in the end (and were EXPECTED to take them as opposed to better paying alternatives). You might want to ask around in your program to see if that trend holds true there. I was single and didn't have children at that time so I didn't have the childcare issue, but by the time I was on my internship year working a 40 hr. week, we paid more for daycare than I earned, so I know what that's like too.

 

I personally ended up taking loans. I could not have paid my bills otherwise. I kept them to a minimum and was very thrifty for a long time. By the time I finished my MA and PhD I was married and no longer qualified for loans due to my DH's income (although he was taking private loans for his grad degree at the time). In total I ended up with $30k + in loans and I've yet to work in my field, but I hope to in time. I can't really say that the degrees were time or money very well spent. If I'd been working full time earning a reasonable wage all of the years that I was in grad school full time AND working for peanuts AND racking up loans, our family would be in a very different financial position with very different options these days.

 

I would suggest that you think about what you want to do once you complete your degree(s). I would also suggest that you learn what those jobs might pay. I wouldn't consider taking on tens of thousands in loans if you have absolutely no idea of your earning potential or ability to pay them off in the future. It's going to take a long time for teaching at a community college to pay back the loans that you're suggesting. I wish you luck!


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Old 06-18-2012, 07:56 PM
 
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I just wanted to add that private student loans are the worst type of debt you can have because most of the time they are not able to be discharged in bankruptcy. They will follow you to your grave.

 

If you could use credit cards or get a personal loan, that may be better for you in the future.

 

Good luck!

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Old 06-21-2012, 09:45 PM
 
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I totally agree with mamato2! Weigh your projected salary against the amount of loans you will need to take out. Student loans can be a good investment, but, it really depends upon the amount taken out versus anticipated job salary & also job availability in your field. Research your career options with that degree to help determine if loans will be a good investment for you, or not.
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Old 06-22-2012, 12:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamatoto2 View Post

 

I would suggest that you think about what you want to do once you complete your degree(s). I would also suggest that you learn what those jobs might pay. I wouldn't consider taking on tens of thousands in loans if you have absolutely no idea of your earning potential or ability to pay them off in the future. It's going to take a long time for teaching at a community college to pay back the loans that you're suggesting. I wish you luck!

 

This is what we did.  DP was in grad school getting his Master's Degree when we had DD.  I ended up staying home with her and we took some minimal loans (subsidized).  We were able to save enough in the first six months of him having full time employment to completely pay the loans off (when interest would have started accruing). 

 

My oldest sister worked multiple jobs through college to avoid student loans.  After that experience she says she realized it would have been better to take minimal loans and pay them off at her professional salary (she became a CPA) than to kill herself working minimum wage and only eating ramen for 5 years.


 

 

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Old 06-23-2012, 07:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks all :)

 

Figuring out what my income will be post-graduation is so tough. I'll have an MA in Written Communication - Teaching of Writing - so I will very likely be able to teach one or two sections of Composition at my University when I graduate, in addition to possible Writing Center hours, but the adjunct pay here is TERRIBLE. $600/month per section, I believe. So...if I teach two classes, I'll make a whopping $1200/month. However, if I can get a full-time position (or hell, even a part time position) teaching at a community college, the starting pay is pretty good - that depends on whether or not anyone is hiring. One of our MA grads got a full-time position two years ago, but as of right now, for example, there are no openings. I may take a year off and work as an adjunct/various jobs, and then apply for PhD programs. I'm semi-limited in terms of relocating - single parent and DD's father lives here, so I can't just take a job in another state very easily nor do I want to. 

 

point: I have noooooo clue what to expect post-graduation.

 

What I'm leaning toward doing is to stay where we live now: I've been living in a 2br apt right near school with my boyfriend, but we are splitting and I had been looking for another place with less rent and having no luck because nothing out here is family friendly, it's all student housing in run down houses, and the "family housing" through school is no cheaper than living here plus doesn't have laundry.... So, I'll be taking out loans to pay for it, but having the peace of mind that I'm near school, it's just two years, and I won't have to pack up everything. It's either that, or move back in with my mother (she'll have me pay rent), and have a 35 minute commute each way (hello, gas costs...). 

 

My mind isn't wholly made up, but that's where I'm at. The loans will be government loans, but I believe as of July 1, they will not be subsidized for graduate students anymore.


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