Graduate and Professional Concerns Committee

 What I wish they would have told me........

In order to identify some of the major concerns and problems faced by students attending graduate or professional school, several financial aid administrators took an informal poll of their students. We asked them to tell us what they wish they would have known prior to entering school and what information would have made the transition easier. Many of the respondents held down full-time jobs prior to coming back to school. Below are the things that they felt were most important and wanted to share with future generations of graduate or professional students.

1. The true cost of school

Tuition is not the only expense of going back to school. Students identified living expenses as one of the biggest "unknowns" in trying to establish a budget. Items which need to be considered when setting up a budget that many students didn’t consider are having to come up with first, last and security deposits, moving expenses, utility bills and having to buy groceries on a regular basis. (Grocery shopping was a big concern for students used to living at home or being on a meal plan.)

2. The importance of good credit

Students were so focused on getting into school that they didn’t spend time planning how to pay for it. Many didn’t realize that having good credit was very important, since most degrees beyond a bachelor’s are financed with federal and private loans. Private loans are credit-based, so students with less than perfect credit might not qualify. Graduate and professional schools are expensive, especially here in Massachusetts. Federal loans don’t cover tuition in many cases. Students unable to get private loans are in a real bind financially.

3. Planning financially before school...
Students wish they would have paid credit cards down so those bills weren’t pressing. Students found they were unable to meet all their outside obligations and ran into financial difficulty. Some fell behind in payments and hurt their credit. One student wished that he would have deferred admissions for a year to be better prepared financially. He thought that in the long run, one year of his life would not have made a big difference in the length of time that he would practice law, but he felt he would have been less stressed about money matters while in school. Another student said that it took her some time to realize she couldn’t buy whatever she wanted whenever she wanted.

4....and after
Students wished that they would have considered the impact loan debt will have on their future lifestyles BEFORE they signed on the dotted line. One student said that he came in with realistic salary expectations and limited his borrowing accordingly. He was more concerned with the way he was going to live AFTER school than while he was in school.
5. Paperwork
Students expressed the importance of keeping up with undergraduate lenders. While they were overwhelmed with information from the lenders at times, they stressed the importance of keeping lenders informed of their current addresses in order to avoid problems in the future. One student actually went into default because he failed to have his mail forwarded from an old address. His credit will now take a long time to repair, and he was in jeopardy of having to drop out of school because he was unable to obtain federal loans for a time.

All students stressed the importance of filing deferment forms promptly too, to avoid slipping into default by error. Lenders don’t automatically know when students re-enroll, so it’s up to the student to let the lender know.


Privacy Statement                Site Map                Website Help