A problem with student loans comes creeping into view five to seven years after graduate school, when deferments are no longer applicable and daily expenses begin to pile up. That's when the load of tens of thousands of dollars starts settling in on your shoulders to be managed over the next forty years of your professional life. It becomes real after you get your first job because your check will seem to shrink quickly. The problems you will face in graduate school are cost of living, transportation, extraneous school related costs, and possibly tuition.
Large student loans can take you away from beginning the life you dreamed of before entering graduate school, limiting your options of employment, or even places to live. Debt in general is dangerous, but an unsubsidized loan is worse. What can be done?
First, know the financial terrain. It is expensive, with some places more expensive than others (Chicago, IL was very different than Edinburg, TX). Here are a couple of suggestions. Focus on minimizing your need for loans by earning a trade beforehand. For example, after finishing your high school degree, you can be financially prepared for college if you can earn a certificate or Associate's degree in a trade prior to attending a university. Many high schools now offer classes for earning an Associate's degree prior to graduation. By doing so, you will be able to find a better paying job that can offset the overall costs of attending a state university. And if you can earn an Associate's degree without paying a dime, you are in the lead. I had a specialized master's degree before beginning my PhD program, but did not capitalize on the option of working part-time as a school psychologist. As a colleague in my PhD program sarcastically said to me during a presentation on the salary of a school psychologist "you are not a very smart man are you?"
Tomorrow Part 2