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Thread: $25k in loans to get a Masters - worth it? In need of advice please.

  1. #1
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    $25k in loans to get a Masters - worth it? In need of advice please.

    Hi all,

    I am currently looking into applying to the a Masters of Urban Planning program at Virginia Commonwealth University here in Richmond. I have a BA in Historic Preservation, and no student debt from that. My main concern is that the program is about $25k for two years. Do any of you out there think it's viable to pay that back on a planner's salary? I've always had an interest in planning, but have been hesitant to go for a masters and be forced to take such a heavy amount of debt. Yet, I don't think I can get my foot in the door without a degree as I do not have direct planning experience.. Does anyone think this is a reasonable investment?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

    Sean

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I hate to give out to much financial advice because I don't know your finances. Yes, it can be done, but you have to consider holding a 10 year car payment. Is your car paid for? Do you need a new car soon? How is your credit debt? These are all things you have to ask yourself. Yes you can reduce the payment going onto one of the income reduction plans, but it's still a payment. Make sure you know what your bills are and plan on being paid something just under $40k. That way if you get paid more it's all a bonus! Good luck.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Take a look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program: https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loan...public-service
    There are a lot of public sector folks heavily in student loan debt that are paying a manageable percentage of their income towards their federal student loans and, in theory, will have the balance forgiven in 10 years.
    The content contrarian

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmmm.....

    Sadly.....maybe a degree with wider range........Public Administration, MBA (just threw up a bit in my mouth with this one... ), or a degree that leads to a recognized license.....engineer.....architect......

    It just depends on what you want.......
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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I acquired my MUP in 2002 and left with $40k in FAFSA debt. I used it to be 'comfortable' during my 2 year program and not have to live like a pauper, but it wasn't the best method by a long shot.

    I think $25K in student loan debt (from a public source like FAFSA) is not that bad. Get your first job and scrimp to pay it off in 3-5 years. If you're childless, that would make it much easier.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Sadly.....maybe a degree with wider range........Public Administration, MBA (just threw up a bit in my mouth with this one... ), or a degree that leads to a recognized license.....engineer.....architect......

    It just depends on what you want.......
    Hey that's my degree!
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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    Similar boat

    Hey OP, I can relate.

    Right now I'm in a dilemma similar to yours. I would like to go back to school to get a masters in UP but is it worth all the money? It's real tough getting over that entry-level hump but maybe grad school could open some new doors and connections. Looking back I think I should have networked more during undergrad.

    Anyways, no real advice from me just thought you might wanna know what someone in your position was doing. I'm applying left and right for actual urban planner jobs while i also have narrowed it down to only 2 colleges I'd like to potentially attend. Either I get a job or I go to school. Even more ideally I could get a job that might pay for school (low chance but ya never know).

    Either way, good luck! Hope this helps a bit.

  8. #8
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    $25K doesn't sound all that bad for student loan debt these days to get you all the way through a masters. I know a large number of folks that finished their Bachelors & Masters in much worse shape ($50K +). Live & spend smart for a couple of years at your first job and you should be able to burn through that debt with relative ease.

    For what it is worth, a Bach.HP and MUP combination sounds awfully attractive, especially if your MUP flexes in some finance & public administration coursework.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    $25K in student debt is a pittance compared to what most people acquire. In the long run, the master's degree will open up more opportunities and can be the price of admittance to a management position.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    $25K in student debt is a pittance compared to what most people acquire. In the long run, the master's degree will open up more opportunities and can be the price of admittance to a management position.
    I completely agree. As a recent grad I think the degree is worth it. I had significant experience in the field before returning to graduate school but would not trade the knowledge I gained in school for any amount of experience. I feel like I am finally on equal footing with other planners. I feel more confident and I think it helps immensely in management. Although some of the best planning managers I have met have not had planning degrees.

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