To all those who are considering going to grad school, heed my advice:
It costs money.
I know, I know, it may look like I’m stating the obvious, but let’s be real here- there’s a ton of us out there who have selected our graduate school based on its ranking and have hopes that its reputation will bring us where we want to be when we graduate. I was head over heels when I found out that my concentration (budgeting and financial management) was ranked number 10 in the country, right below Harvard. It’s crazy to know that I’m attending a school that’s in the same league as the most prestigious Ivy. This ranking is what sold me on Rutgers.
But it costs money.
If you are still in undergrad or a recent college grad- you need to be smart about your finances, especially if graduate school is on the horizon. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t find out the true cost of Rutgers until October, when I received my financial aid award letter. I found out that graduate students are only able to receive $20k a year in federal student aid loans or $10k a semester, depending on your income. I wish I knew the real cost because I was being paid pretty well from my former job assignment and it wouldn’t have been any skin off of my back to put away $500 from every paycheck. Thankfully, I only have to pay $5k out of pocket for tuition and next January, I will receive in-state tuition which will make me eligible for a refund, yay! Yet it makes me realize that if I wanted to attend a more prestigious private university like Harvard, I’d have to shell out $41k for tuition. We’re not including room and board with that figure. Unless the University was offering some stellar scholarships, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to attend. That tuition rate isn’t only exclusive for Harvard, it’s the going rate for most of the top ranked private universities.
If you’re considering which grad schools to attend, here’s the criteria I’d suggest for you to look at:
1. What is its ranking?
2. Is it a public or private university?
- If it’s a public university, will you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition?
3. Check out your finances. Are you comfortable taking a private loan or can you afford to pay out of pocket?
4. It’s not only tuition you’re paying for. Take a good hard look at your living expenses- what do you expect them to be? You need to eat and as much as you may try to convince yourself otherwise, you’re going to grad school. You do need to have fun every once in a while, whether that’s drinking a beer or exploring the local restaurants.
In the end, although I am paying more for this year than I would if I had attended the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, which is a top ranked state school in Albany, NY, I am so happy that I chose Rutgers. My education here is fabulous and it means the world to me that New York City is only a half hour away. Within these past weeks, I got to see the New York Philharmonic, ate brunch at a fabulous restaurant, and of course, I got to check out the sights. After living in Albany for two years, as much as I miss my friends like crazy, I wanted to finally live that city lifestyle. I’m in Newark right now but I am catching the bug and I really hope to make something out of myself so that I’m able to call the city my home.
So, why do I feel like a real Rutgers student? After battling it out with financial aid, I was finally able to receive my very own Rutgers student ID when my award letter processed earlier this week. Now, after three weeks, I can do all of the things normal students do, like go to the gym, print documents without begging the lab techs to release my print jobs, attend sporting events without convincing the ticket ushers that I am a student, and no longer receive scary e-mails threatening to de-register me and kick me off of my residence hall if I don’t pay my bill right meow. Since that situation has been resolved I feel like saying,,,