How to Get Your Masters Without Going into More Debt

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Getting out of college debt free puts you in a huge advantage over your fellow students who will be forced to take the first job they can find so that they can start making payments on their loans. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to hold out for your dream job.

Get Your Masters Without Going into More Debt

You’ll be able to afford taking the unpaid internship that leads to the paid job opportunity. You could take a year to travel the world before starting your career. Whatever it is you dream of doing, you just have so much more opportunity when you aren’t burdened by student debt. So here are a few tips for how to finance your post graduate studies without getting into extra debt!

This post was written by a new blogger in the personal finance arena, Kostas Chiotis at Financial Blog Zone.

masters without going into more debt#1 Sacrifice Now, Reap the Reward Later

One of the biggest problems in the United States (and probably other places, too) is that we feel like we should be living the lifestyle we want as soon as we hit adulthood. We go into debt to get a new car. We get an apartment or house that is more than we can afford.

In short, we end up taking on thousands of dollars in debt just to live the lifestyle we think we should be living. At this point, you might already be rolling out your excuses about how you need a new car so that you look respectable to potential employers or you need the house in the more expensive neighborhood because it’s closer to campus.

But the fact is that you don’t need them. What you do need is to save money. And these major expenses are taking out a huge chunk of your income and probably even increasing your consumer debt.

Want to get your masters without going into more debt? Get a cheap room in an inexpensive apartment shared with roommates. This will save hundreds of dollars a month. If you buy a reliable used car, you can save additional hundreds by not having a car payment. If you give up cable, there’s another nice source of savings.

Live within your means and suddenly, you’ll free up a lot of extra cash that can be better put to use helping you pay for your education. The reward for living within your means now is that you will be able to get that education without getting the debt that goes with it.

#2 Apply for Fellowships & Funding

The hard truth is that getting any kind of grant, scholarship, or fellowship for graduate studies is not easy. And the chances that you’ll get anything are pretty slim. So this is not an option you should really be counting on.

Pessimism aside, this doesn’t mean you just skip it. You still need to apply for it. Apply for as many funding opportunities as you can find. And then forget about them.

Continue working on all the other options in this article. Then, if you do get funding, it will just make your life easier and all that money you saved in the meantime can go toward planning for your future (or rewarding yourself with a vacation or shopping spree)!

#3 Find a Job That Covers Your Education Costs

If you’re serious about getting your masters without going into more debt, then one of the best options is to find a company that will step up and pay for your tuition (for both undergrad and graduate) if your field of study relates to the company’s purpose. Obviously, if you want a post-graduate degree in psychology and your work is in the tech field, your company probably isn’t going to jump up and down to pay for your education. But, if you want an additional degree in software programming, they’ll almost certainly step up and cover your costs.

Even if your company doesn’t advertise this benefit to its employees, it’s always worth asking. Sure, they might require that you stick with the company for a minimum number of years after your schooling, but if you love the company and want to stick around anyway, why not take the free education?!

#4 Get Rid of the Debt You Have First

Trying to pay for graduate studies without taking on debt when a chunk of your current income is already going toward paying off other debts is an uphill battle that basically sets you up for defeat.

So here is a hard but important lesson that will seem to go against all logic: you might need to hold off on going to grad school.

Wait a few years. And in that few years, work your butt off and live well below your means so that you can knock out that debt and start putting something toward your graduate studies.

Then, once you are free of debt, put all the money you were spending on those debt payments into savings. If you play your cards right, you could save up enough to cover tuition and living expenses throughout grad school. That means you could focus 100% of your energy on your education. That kind of payoff is well worth the wait.

Related: How the Debt Snowball Really Works (Free Tool Included!)

#5 Make a Financial Plan

In order to save up the money you need for post graduate studies, you need to know how much money you actually need to save. At the bare minimum, you’ll want to save up the cost of tuition for each year.

But if you would like to be able to stop working and focus exclusively on your studies, you’ll also need to save up living expenses for the years you’ll be in school. If that number looks totally unattainable, even after lowering your expenses as far as you can, you can go for a compromise: save up half of your living expenses so that you can afford to just work part time while studying.

Whatever it is you want to do, you need to sit down and actually calculate the amount of money you will need to save. Then, calculate how much you need to save each month to achieve that goal within a time frame that works for you.

#6 Set Sail for Europe

If saving up for the high price of tuition at American universities and living expenses as well is just not in the cards for you, there is an alternative that is becoming increasingly popular among US students. That alternative is Europe.

Many countries in Europe offer free or at least super cheap education. And as a bonus, you get to live in Europe! Taking this alternative means that you would only need to save up money to pay your living expenses (unless you’re willing to work part time).

This is a great option for those who don’t yet have a family, a mortgage, or anything else that ties you to the US. It’s a little harder to manage if you would have to sell your house and uproot your family to do it. But if you’re still young and single, set sail!

Want your masters without going into more debt? There are obviously a ton of options. But the bottom line is, you have to prioritize that education above other things like having a new car or buying a nice home. And you have to be patient and disciplined with your money. But the reward for self-discipline is definitely worth it. So make your plan and get started!

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3 comments to How to Get Your Masters Without Going into More Debt

  • You know, I think when it comes to getting an assistantship, the level of difficulty really depends on what your major is. If you’re in a field that colleges accept a large number of people than it can be tougher, but if you’re in an area of study that they take a limited number of people, it isn’t all that tough.

    For example, in my field of study, most colleges only accept between one and three students a year, so all of us were offered financial assistance, and that was true at the four schools I was accepted at.

    So, bottomline, you’re right. This is one area you shouldn’t overlook!
    Beth @ The Money Pixie recently posted..What You Need to Know When Refinancing Your Mortgage

    • Awesome! Yes, assistant-ships are a great way to get your masters without incurring any debt! Thankfully, I worked for a company that covered my schooling, so I didn’t have to worry about it, and I still got out debt free (obviously)!! 🙂

  • […] trying to get your debt under control? Are you preparing to buy your first home? Are you trying to get a degree without going into debt? Whatever it is, write it down. And use that as a guide to find different resources that can help […]

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