Financial Considerations for Graduate School

I wish.

Man, applications are a lot of work.  I figured that it’d be easy to recycle essays for each application, but so far, the essay prompts have been different enough to warrant completely new responses each time.  It’s not like I’m saying something totally different — it’s just that the questions are phrased such that each essay doesn’t really focus on exactly the same topics.

This whole process has been more grueling than I expected.  Fortunately, the hardest parts are over now.  I have two essays from which to draw content for my next essays, and all my recommendations have been sent in, which means no more stressing out about outside forces — probably the biggest relief of all.

At this point, my next biggest concern is probably my financial future.  I know I’ll probably have to take out a student loan at some point, but I am clueless as to what that means.  I don’t even know my credit score.  Additionally, I need to look into scholarships and what kinds of financial assistantships my various schools offer.  I’ve also thought about getting a job at school, but some graduate programs place a limit on the number of hours students are allowed to work outside of school in order to ensure that their primary focus is on research — be on the lookout for these kinds of restrictions!

There are many other things to consider besides student loans as well.  I’ve been thinking a lot about cost of living, especially.  I’ve applied to a school in sunny California, and it’s one of my top choices, but living in California is more expensive than, say, Texas.  I’d like to choose a school based purely on my interest in the program, but it may be prudent to factor in living expenses as well.

Other basic things to think about: insurance (car, health, renter’s, etc), transportation, entertainment, spousal/familial support, and career options after graduation.  Anything I’m missing?  Leave a comment!

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