Graduate school debt is like high blood pressure- it gets less attention than far deadlier maladies, but it certainly isn’t good for you. Sure, a graduate degree is becoming, faster and faster, a prerequisite for certain classes of jobs, not to mention the key to entry into an academic career. Yet, for those who aren’t able to commit to a funded PhD, or who are paying out of pocket for a Master’s degree to advance in the workplace, keeping an eye on the cost is a necessity.
With some federal graduate student loans on the brink, prospective grad students may have to make painful cost-benefit decisions on whether pursuing an interest will ultimately lead to a paycheck. AOL’s Daily Finance offers a way to quantify these questions, if you are math-minded. As they say, “prospective grad students should calculate what their expected salary [is] at graduation, then borrow no more than that amount.”
As we’ve seen before in the case of undergrads, the choice of degree makes a difference in ultimate salary and employability. And now, with an undergraduate degree gradually becoming less valuable, the same axiom holds true for graduate degrees, as well.
While it’s perhaps not surprising that students with higher degrees in media or arts would have lower starting salaries relative to debt, it’s a bit more discomfiting to imagine computer programmers and lawyers suffering from the same fate. (Click on this last link for a report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce which details these findings, a solid resource brought to our attention by Daily Finance.)
If you like your numbers a bit more concrete, try FinAid’s Master’s Student calculator, which helps put the lessons above into practice.