How to Keep Your Expenses Under Control in Graduate School

Tue, Mar 22, 2011

Budgeting, Financial Advice

Not all of us are blessed with enormous trust funds for higher education. Maybe you had a trust fund for your undergraduate degree, and now the fund is looking pretty dry. Graduate degree programs, such as a JD or an MBA can be incredibly expensive. If you plan on taking loans out, be prepared to be in debt for a while. However, there are some things you can do, during your studies, to alleviate the pressures of graduate school. After all, an investment in education will pay off in the long-run. You just need to manage the short-term processes, so you don’t end up in never-ending debt! Here are some tips on how to keep your expenses low.

You Are How You Live

This tip comes from the saying, “you are what you eat.” Well in this case, that works too. If you take out loans for living, but still live extravagantly, you’re likely to regret it later. For example, in terms of food, if you eat expensive meals on a daily basis you’ll be paying that off, WITH INTEREST, in the future. The same goes with your board expenses. Is it really a good idea to live in a high rise for $1,700 a month when you are on loans? Probably not. Tuition may be high, but you are making the future you’s life a LOT harder.

Employment Prospects

If you are likely to graduate with a lot of debt, start looking for jobs much before graduation. More importantly, look for jobs that will help you quickly pay off your debt. Of course, money isn’t everything, but you may have to do something you don’t love upon graduation. For example, many new lawyers work in corporate law for a few years to pay off debt. Afterwards, they end up going into public-interest law or other lower-paying fields they enjoy. Sometimes, you have to make sacrifices based on finances. It’s better to pay off your private loans as soon as possible, rather than letting interest get the best of you.

Look for Scholarships While in School

Maybe you didn’t receive any merit scholarships upon acceptance to your graduate program. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for scholarships once you’ve started. Do a Google search on available graduate scholarships. Also, talk to your advisor or financial aid office about new merit scholarships at the university. Usually schools offer scholarships after your first year (if you have kept up certain GPA/in the top ten percent of your class). The catch: You have to be aggressive to get one! You need to be on your A game and seek out the right people!

Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.

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