Sunday, August 12, 2012

Help Your College Graduate Decide - Work or Grad School

Graduate School of Education Diploma Ceremony
Graduate School of Education Diploma Ceremony (Photo credit: fordhamalumni)

Your son or daughter just graduated with their four year degree. You are relieved because the financial stress of paying college is over. Your happy that your child got a great education. Your planning and hard work has paid off and now you can use your money to do something to better your own life. Think again.

Dreams of grad school have been pervading the thoughts of your new graduate and they are thinking of continuing college to pursue a graduate degree. Maybe jobs are scarce and now would be the perfect time to get that masters degree.

I am about to face this decision in my own home. My daughter has one more year to go with college and she thinks her chances of being hired would increase if she went for a masters degree. In her field, there are jobs that a bachelors degree would be adequate. We have been discussing it for a while and no decision has been made yet. 

If you are experiencing this same dilemma I want to offer you a few things to think about before making a final decision.

1. Make sure the extra degree will payoff. Going to grad school is no cheap proposition. You can invest 10's of thousands of dollars pursuing an advanced degree. Be sure it's going to make a real difference. 

Seek out people who already have the degree and inquire if it really is necessary. Talk to hiring managers, ask them if the grad school degree is something they see as valuable. 

When considering grad school be careful not to rule out working for a while in your field in an entry level job. There could be jobs available. Sometimes we get caught up in the education process and put to much weight into the schooling and not working.

2. Consider going part-time.
The cost of grad school, according to Money Magazine, can average $22,000 a year for a public university. With a private university costing $34,000 a year. Why not cut down on these costs by attending part-time. This way you may not have to take student loans and you will be able to work. Depending on your employer, you may even be able to have your employer help pay for your education. You trade a future commitment at your job for a free education.

3. Government assistance.
If you are so determined to go to grad school you are still able to qualify for student loans. You need to fill out the FASFA form and go through the process but you will have the money needed to attend grad school.

4. Take all available tax breaks.
There are many tax breaks for returning students. If you make under $57,000 you can take advantage of the Lifetime Learning Credit. Even the use of 529 college savings plans are still available to you so you can shield earnings dedicated to funding education.

There is a continual controversy whether the parents should pay or the student should pay for post bachelor degree college. Some parents believe that a four year degree is their only obligation to their children and further studies is on the students dime.

If the parents have the means to pay the cost of grad school then why not pay. But if parents have been struggling all the while and maybe even under funding their own retirement isn't time to cut the cord and let the new grad stand on their own two feet. 

In my situation, grad school will be a cost my daughter will have to provide. Luckily for her and me she will be able to find a entry level job with her four year degree. She will be able to support herself and pay for her own grad school costs. 

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