Post # 1
I’d just like some insight from those of you that are going through this or have had experience with it.
I’m a psychology major, I’m finishing my undergraduate as we speak and I’m probably at about 20,000 in student loans total. I have about two years left. I’m a good student, I’ve worked part time jobs since I was 14 all while going to school fulltime for college, I went to community college for two years and I’m going to a regular tuition state school. I never get any help aside from government loans and private student loans, I hear of people graduating with only maybe 5k in debt and it just amazes me. I did not party my college years away or go to an extravagent school for 4 or 5 years and yet I never got offered much aid from the government, my parents are middle income, however my Dad was forced into retirement years ago (auto worker) and they couldn’t help me financially, nor did they have college savings
I would LOVE more than anything to be an art therapist someday, but I’m worried about student debt. I believe by the time I would graduate I would have 60 or 70k in debt. My fiance is a paramedic/firefighter and his salary tops off around 60k in a couple of years (at least wherre he’s at now, we’re hoping eventually he’ll get in with a suburb which pays much more). I’m extremely concerned about debt though. He would like to get married before I start grad school but grad school is pretty demanding from what I’ve heard so we’d have to rely in his salary more so I’m sure which concerns me.
I’m not sure if I should completely bypass grad school and settle for some random career with my undergrad (although I’ve heard you need at least a master’s to make decent money), or if I should buckle down and just get through the two years so I can start doing what I would love to do- which also raises the debate is it safe to get married before grad school? And then there’s always perhaps working fulltime and doing school part time but i’m not really sure how that would work.
Anyway sorry it’s so long, it’s just difficult having such a high education goal, without much help, and also trying to plan a life together. I would love to hear any advice on how some of you are doing it!
Post # 3
I have about $40K from undergraduate because I went to a private university. I double majored in forensic psychology/general psychology. I am in my third year of my master’s degree and have $0 debt from this degree because I have worked full time during the program and paid for all tuition out of pocket (again, private university). It’s totally possible to do it!
If you’re planning on getting just a master’s degree try to find one that has classes at night so you can work during the day. That’s what I did! It hasn’t always been the easiest but I’m so glad I don’t have any debt from this degree.
My current degree is a master’s degree in mental health counseling.
I chose to go for the career I love because I knew I’d be unhappy with anything else. I am getting married a month after I finish classes.
It’s totally possible! Good luck!
Post # 4
I’m not in grad school, but I do have some comments!
I was a Psych major like you, and I graduated close to $80,000 in debt. Yeah, I know. I came from a single parent family and my mom could not support me when I went to school. I took out loans for all four years. It’s one of my big regrets – I should have worked part time the whole time, but I was afraid of my grades dipping because of working at all. I worked my last year and my GPA was the best it ever was.
Anyway, I’d say if you want to be an art therapist, you’re going to need your Masters. I’m serious. You do not get to command much money with a BA. I’m one of the only people at my job without a Masters and am painfully aware of how much a Masters is required in my field.
Student loan debt is a major problem for a lot of students, and yes, it can delay when you get married/buy a home/have kids. That’s really up to you, but I think you should be heavily considering a Masters sooner than later.
What I did that was the best thing I could have done for someone in as much debt as myself was pay things on time, everytime. My credit was good before that, but now it would be perfect without the debt. It’s pretty darn good now. So pay those bills on time. I’m hoping to buy a home with Fiance in the next two years and my debt is being paid down aggressively. Sacrifice a little now so you can relax later.
Oh, and I’d pay a little on the interest now. I didn’t while I was in school and it slapped me in the face when I first went into repayment. It creeps!
Post # 5
So wait, you would want a Master’s in Art Therapy, not a PhD in Psych – right? Because PhD programs in psych pay stipends but take forever (I should know – I’m in one haha). I had $5K in loans from undergrad thanks to scholarships helping out, but none from grad school because of my stipend. Granted that it’s not outrageously expensive, I would personally go for the Master’s because a) it’s what you want to do and will be gratifying in the end for only a few extra years of $ struggle and b) Psych BS’s in themselves are pretty useless unless you get a job that just wants you to have a degree, any degree. The PP had a great suggestion with night school, that’s what my Darling Husband will be doing for his MBA! Have you considered what an alternative career would be for you?
I got married before grad school and we are doing great, so obv I think it’s “safe” lol.
Post # 6
Thank you both! That’s very helpful! Also sorry I accidentally double posted before because it said there was no connection so I assumed the post got lost oops!
Post # 7
Don’t go to graduate school in that type of field unless you are funded! Meaning they will pay tuition and give you a stipend. Even then you might have to take some out, but not near as much. If you are really interested you might as well apply and see what you get back. I went to grad school for a liberal arts field and I would tell anyone NOT to do it unless you are funded! You should be able to get funded somewhere. Or if you know that when you graduate you will be making a lot of money…then it might be worth it. But if you don’t know how much you will make I would look for someone to pay for your way (you work for them as a graduate researcher/teacher)
Post # 8
I hate to say it, but if you are going to get anywhere wwith a psych major, you NEED a graduate degree!
That being said – I racked up MOST of my student loans in grad school. I mostly had grants and scholarships as an undergrad but there is a lot less financial assistance at the graduate level. I started paying on my student loans the year after I graduated (1996). I am STILL paying on them. But I happily informed FH that when I checked my balance today that I have less than 3K to go before the loans are paid off. I can’t wait!
Despite the debt, grad school was definitely a worthwhile investment. I make close to 80K/yr. now and that would have never happened without my graduate degrees!
Post # 9
@MrsWrangler: Thanks! I’m just thinking master’s for now, but I would like to get a PhD eventually I think. I’ve heard about the stipend help, but I’m concerned I wouldn’t be able to get it because my grades are good, but not like stellar good. I’ve gotten a C once or twice (especially in math…Lord am I god awful in math, give me a 30 page paper anyday). I agree though, I’ve heard BA’s are pretty much worthless and I’d probably wind up in a random office job, problem being I wouldn’t even really be getting any experience since I don’t want a buisness career or anything like that 🙁
Post # 10
I had the same anxiety. Reality is that masters degrees in therapy fields do not offer stipends, and they are very expensive. But if you know its what you love, its worth it. Try to get a Graduate Assistantship to put a bit of a dent in the tuition, and if you can, take some courses while working for a company that offers tuition reimbursement before you go full time. Once you have that debt – just think about it like a mortgage – it will always be there, and its expensive and sometimes burdensome- but its an investment and its worth it.
Post # 11
@kes18: Don’t go to graduate school in that type of field unless you are funded!
+1. Thank goodness for funding.
@Birdiebaby4: Honestly, I think if a PhD is your end game, getting a Master’s will not be super helpful now because you basically have to redo all that time in your PhD program anyway. That’ll just add 2 extra years to your studies. So determine which you want to do first lol. Also, like the PP pointed out, ALL PhD and many Master’s students should be funded with stipends, regardless of grades – they accept you to do research/teach/clinical internships/etc in addition to your classwork. If you want info on my stats (like GPA, etc) when I was accepted, feel free to PM me.
Post # 12
@Birdiebaby4: Many places will fund all graduate students. So if you are accepted, they will fund you. If they can’t afford to fund them, they will often just not accept them. You are paid because you work for them either researching or teaching, not for your undergrad grades.
I was a grad student and I believe everyone in my program was funded. I also work in university research administration (now) and any research grant with grad students working on them must pay the student a stipend and their tuition.
Post # 13
If you want to get a phd, I would probably argue that you should do it sooner than later. It’s going to be way harder to live the student lifestyle once you get used to the real world and a real paycheck.
Post # 14
I was a Psych major as well and am now in grad school for Social Work. I have a lot of loan debt built up from grad school but am hoping it will be worth it when I’m working as a licensed therapist in a couple years!
Post # 15
My SIL is an art therapist. Think long and hard about where you go to school, as you will NOT be making much after you graduate. Go public, in state if possible. Like social work, it isn’t a major that pays you back for the time, debt, and effort you put into it.
Post # 16
Also, I didn’t pay for my grad school, it was free, plus I had a $30,000/yr stipend. But, I’m a scientist, and I think it works differently than with other majors.