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Dear Olga: Paying for Graduate School

Dear Olga,

I have been working as a Developer (entry level) for 1.5 years. I used all of my money so far to pay off student loans from a different country. I want to go to a good business school in1.5 years. How can I save up enough to fund my education? I’m afraid of accumulating another student loan but I want to dream big. Please share your thoughts on this.

Thank you,

Pink Panther


Dear Pink Panther,

I can relate to wanting to keep your student loans down and staying out of debt, I worked on paying down my undergraduate student loans before going back to graduate school.

The good news is that you can reverse-engineer what you will need to pay for graduate school and then work on saving this amount for the next year and a half.

Let's start with estimating costs.

  • If you're considering more than one school, look at the school that has the most expensive tuition so you will be prepared. What is the yearly tuition and how many years do you expect it to take to complete your degree?

  • Are you going to live on or off campus? I opted out of living in dorms when I went to college and graduate school because it was cheaper to live off campus.

  • Be realistic with your expectations, do your research to see how long it has taken others to get a similar degree that you're pursuing.

Once you have the yearly tuition and housing costs multiplied by the number of years it will take you to complete the degree, you have a good idea of the costs you can expect. There are 18 months in a year and a half.

Take the total amount you estimated you'll need to cover your tuition and divide that by 18, this will give you the amount you should aim to save each month. Work on saving that amount each month but don't forget that there are other ways to pay for your education outside of cash and student loans.

Here are some suggestions on how to chip away at your graduate school tuition:

  • Ask the schools you're applying to, to consider you for financial aid. You won't know how someone is willing to help you unless you ask! I know someone who recently received substantial scholarships to cover graduate school tuition.

  • Research if the schools you're considering have work-study programs. Some schools will allow you to work in various capacities to cover school costs.

Remember that it's okay to take out some loans to cover your tuition. Let's say that if you still had $5,000 to save at the end of the 18 months, it's better than paying for everything with student loans.

Your dreams are achievable if you can imagine it. Bob Sager says "Impossible is an opinion."

I hope this gives you some ideas on how you can start working on saving for graduate tuition.

Good luck!



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