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What Millennials Need to Know Before Applying to Grad School

Student debt is the new norm
○ Average student debt: $29,400
○ 31% of millennials regret paying for college instead of getting a job and carving out a spot in the job market
○ Average wage for young college graduates: $16.60 per hour.
■ $34,500 for a full-time year of work
■ That’s the lowest average pay since 1998
○ The underemployment rate for college graduates is 18.3%
■ Compared to 9.9% in 2007
○ Millennials won’t reach median wage until they are 30
■ Unlike their parents, who made it around their 26th birthdays
○ Only about one in 10 millennials define their job as a career

This debt can delay key life milestones:
■ Home purchases
■ Marriage
■ Having children
○ 36% of millennials are living at their parents home
○ Tuition rates are increasing at twice the rate of inflation
○ Every nine years, the cost of higher education doubles

Are you considering grad school to give yourself an edge?

○ Balance costs with rewards:
■ Potentially growing $50K of debt to $150K is scary
■ There is a lot you can do with $100,000

First step: Know why the degree is important
■ Not always about more money:
● Fields like
○ Law
○ Science
○ Medicine
■ Graduate degree is a necessary stepping stone
● Fields like
○ Business
○ Technology
■ Graduate degree presents opportunity to hone skills and change career direction
● Personal enrichment is a valid reason to go to school
○ Know that an advanced degree doesn’t guarantee a big paycheck though

Creative Strategic Planning

You may decide that your time is better spent traveling the world or starting a business. But if graduate school is the answer, here are some ways to mitigate costs:

Look for a one-year program
○ Shorter program = Cheaper cost
● Seek out funding opportunities:
Research and teaching assistantships:
■ Will typically cover the cost of:
● Tuition
● Come with a small living stipend
Work while in school:
○ Look for contract work instead of low paying internships
■ You can hold a full-time job while taking classes after hours or during weekends
● Work before going back to school:
○ Gain some professional experience
○ Save money
■ More cash on hand = less you will need to rely on interest-heavy loans
Think like a salesperson:
○ While in school, focus on cultivating skills that can translate into an income.
■ Look for markets, like technology, that are rapidly growing and facing a severe skills gap.
Ask for employer support:
○ some companies offer a formal tuition reimbursement program to their employee
■ don’t assume that the conversation is closed.
■ You may be able to negotiate a tuition reimbursement by committing to a longer tenure at your company