Applying to Grad School? Do This Homework First

Columnist says spreadsheet on debt should be required reading
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2014 11:05 AM CST
Applying to Grad School? Do This Homework First

It's sound advice that anyone thinking about grad school should be "fully funded," writes Megan McArdle at Bloomberg. That is, your tuition should be covered by a research or teaching stipend. After all, if a Ph.D. program accepts you without such funding, what that really means is the school is "willing to take your money, but not willing to invest in you." The problem, oddly, is that being fully funded is often "not nearly enough," writes McArdle. She uses this spreadsheet on student debt to make the point.

On it, students explain how they managed to pile up six-figure debt. The reasons vary: For some, "the money didn’t last as long as required to actually complete and defend their dissertation," often because the students got married or had kids. Or they had to pay for travel. Or they lived in cities with an especially high cost of living that swamped their stipend. Meanwhile, the interest on their undergrad debt piled up. The spreadsheet is likely skewed toward those with debt problems, notes McArdle, but it still serves up a valuable lesson: "It’s not enough to have funding. You also need to have a time frame, and a budget, that fits the funding on offer." Click for the full post. (Read more student debt stories.)

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