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Calculating the Cost of Graduate School

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Some of you haven’t been admitted into college yet, others of you are working to get your undergraduate degree, and some of you have just graduated and are now walking out into an economy that is slowing down and has higher unemployment. Many college grads feel they should ride out this economic dip by going to graduate school while, at the same time, improving their earning prospects. But, does graduate school pay for itself? In her April article Starting Out, Shelly Banjo offers some interesting figures.

Banjo reports graduate school is getting more expensive. There is an estimated 60% increase in the cost. For example, Harvard tells its law school students to plan $62,000 a year for tuition, times three! The average medical school student has $150,000 in debt. Is it worth it? Not always. Ms Banjo describes an example of two young men going to law school. One finished and went to work in a firm, ending up with a lower salary and more debt than the other young man who left law school and went to work as a broker.

Ms Banjo offers good advice. Before going to graduate school, research specific jobs you are interested in for salary range, hiring opportunities, and whether or not the employers prefer a graduate degree for hiring. She gives these two sites to help, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a human resources data firm at Salary.com. She also suggests calculating how much debt you can afford, which should be no more than 10% to 15% of your income. FinAid.org can help with that calculation.