02.14.12 | How to Avoid College Grad Unemployment

Posted in financial aid tips, News by Student Loan Network Staff

According to the Gallup poll, the U.S. unemployment rate sits at 8.6% with underemployment (those working part-time but who want to work full-time) at 18.1%. Are you a recent or soon-to-be college graduate? Do you worry about unemployment and whether your skills will land you the job you’ve hoped for (or the job you trained for)? Are you or your friends blaming the economy for the fact that the job market looks scarce for recent grads?

Recent bachelor’s undergraduates have an unemployment rate of 8.9% while those with only a high school diploma have a unemployment rate of 22.9%, and high school dropouts are at 31.5%, so a degree is some comfort in this market. What are you going to do about it?

Well you could chalk it up to the economy, the fact that big businesses made bad decisions before you even graduated, and now you can’t get a job. OR you could show potential employers that you are action-oriented, and that you not only want to work, but you want to find your passion through said work. Sounds nice right? But how do you do that?

There are several different paths one could take to evaluate their potential job prospects while still in, or just out of school.

06.24.10 | How long does it take to get a graduate degree?

Posted in Graduate Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

The most predominant hang-ups for young professionals concerning going to graduate school are time and money. How much will graduate school cost? And how long will it take? As you learned from earning a Bachelor’s, time and money go hand in hand. The longer it takes to get a graduate degree, the more it’s going to cost in tuition.

How long it will take to complete a graduate program is contingent on how much time you are able to devote to classes. If you have a full-time job and are only able to take part-time classes at night, it will obviously take longer to get a degree than if you were going to class full-time.

Getting a Master’s degree generally takes between two to three years on a full-time course load. Other programs can take more or less.

For example, getting a law degree generally takes three years, provided you are on a full-time program. You may be able to get a part-time law degree in four years.  A law degree typically requires between 80-90 credits.  For business school, a full-time MBA program takes two years; part-time MBA programs usually take three to four years. Medical degrees generally take four years to earn.

Obviously this varies from school to school, and program to program. One of the perks of graduate school is that many programs are very flexible to fit your schedule, so the decision on how long you go to school is mostly up to you. If possible, try to go to graduate school at least half-time so you can be eligible to receive federal Stafford loans. Half-time student eligibility is determined by the school. For example, if a school claims 12 credits counts as full-time, then you must be taking at least six credits per semester to receive a Stafford loan.

If work and family make going to school half-time unlikely, a private student loan can help you cover graduate tuition costs. Compare your loan options today.

05.21.10 | I can’t find a job! Should I go to grad school?

Posted in Graduate Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

If you’re currently unemployed (or underemployed), you aren’t alone. Although the economy is beginning to recover from the recent global recession, many college graduates are still finding it very difficult to net a job. As it stands, the USA still hovers close to a 10% jobless rate. While this is improving slowly, it still does not change the level of competition in the marketplace.

If you are a recent graduate in this situation, odds are you have at least considered going to grad school to postpone your job search and deepen your skills. I graduated in 2009 and would like to share a few words of advice to help your decision-making process: (more…)

05.10.10 | The Benefits of Part-Time Grad School

Posted in College Life, Graduate Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

If you are a member of the working world, full-time school may just not be an option for you. It might have been easy to devote the time during your undergraduate life, but as many of us know, having a 40 hour per week job and trying to balance an equal amount of class time hours can be an utter nightmare. (more…)

05.05.10 | GRE, GMAT? What are they?

Posted in Graduate Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

It’s no secret that graduate school tends to be insanely competitive. You are looking to broaden and significantly deepen your level of skill in a specific area of study, and with depth of knowledge comes authority and competition. Granted, a graduate school focusing on art or science may not be quite as cut throat as a business or MBA school, but the desire to attract and retain high quality students is a constant concern for these colleges.

In order to address these worries and weed out “less qualified” candidates (I use that term loosely, since it’s well known that smart people don’t necessarily do well on standardized testing), many schools have adopted the GRE and/or GMAT test. (more…)

04.30.10 | Graduate Degrees in High Demand by Businesses

Posted in Graduate Loans, News by Student Loan Network Staff

The Council of Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Service released a survey recently that states the job market will be pushing more for individuals with advanced degrees in the future. You don’t exactly need Nostradamus to figure that out, but it is a valid point that as the complexity of technology and business deepens, so must the knowledge required to work in related fields.

If you think about how much the business climate has changed over the past decade or two, virtually every aspect has been affected by the evolution of the Internet and the rapid deployment of information between any electronically-connected places on the planet. Graduate school fits into this puzzle by providing the raw education and skills to understand and interpret these trends and evolve yourself to stay competitive. (more…)

04.14.10 | How to Handle Grad School Rejection

Posted in Graduate Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

With the job market in a state of disrepair over the last few years, a number of young post-grads have turned their eyes to graduate school. Companies across the nation have begun raising their expectations for new hires, and a graduate school degree is rapidly becoming a staple among them. What that means is grad school has become much more competitive, particularly for popular degree programs, such as MBAs.

Unfortunately, that means many people will not be getting into their first-choice schools. When that happens to you, what steps can you take?

First, try improving your grad school resume. Three of the major criteria looked at by graduate school admissions offices are test scores, references and essays. Fortunately, these are all easily improved. Look at where you stand with regard to the school’s minimum test score requirements. If you are hovering at the minimum, consider retaking your GRE’s or other such tests for a higher score. Show your admissions essay to a writing coach or other trusted source. Try seeking out more prestigious references.

If that doesn’t work, you could expand your choice of schools. Look, we would all love to get a law degree from Harvard or a medical degree from Yale. We would also like to play second base for the Red Sox and date Rachel McAdams. Unfortunately, those aren’t terribly likely scenarios. So what you have to do is cast a wider net. While a graduate degree from a state school won’t hold the same prestige as one from a well-known private school, it can save you a ton of money in tuition costs. Think of it this way, if you are pursuing a graduate degree to increase your salary, the difference in tuition from the two schools would be like giving yourself a raise.

If you had your heart set on a certain school, look in to taking non-degree courses. Just because you were rejected from a specific program does not necessarily mean you are rejected from the school as a whole. This is an opportunity to show professors that not only are you a capable student, but you’re so passionate about the program, you’re willing to take classes even if they may not immediately lead to a degree.

Finally, consider alternative methods of education. Yes, I’m talking about an online degree. There are many online schools to choose from and many offer the program you need.  Click here for a database on online schools and online degree programs for graduate students.

ScholarshipPoints code: GRADREJECT

Image credit: Stepanov

04.07.10 | The Top 5 Best MBA Schools (and How to Afford Them)

Posted in Graduate Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

If you are considering attending graduate school for an MBA program, there are a lot of factors to consider. If you haven’t already seen my blog on MBAs, it has a wealth of information and useful tips toward making the process more simple.

According to the Princeton Review’s 2009 Best Business School Rankings, here are the top five MBA schools in the USA:

  1. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor — Ross School of Business
  2. Northwestern University — Kellogg School of Management
  3. Harvard University — Harvard Business School
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Sloan School of Management
  5. University of Pennsylvania — The Wharton School

I took this from the “Best Career Prospects” list, because let’s face it, that’s really the main reason for going for an MBA degree. You can talk up the name of a school, but in the end, whether or not it will prepare you adequately for bigger and better things in business is what is truly vital.

Great, now how do I pay for it?

To show an example, I’ll use the financial aid breakdown provided by Princeton Review for the Ross School:

2010 Tuition: $45,379 (in-state), $50,379 (out-of-state)
2010 Books + Fees + Estimated Personal Expenses = $8,423
2010 Housing: $12,338

2010 Estimated Cost of Attendance = $66,140 to $71,140

Average Annual Award Package: $62,343.00, of that,

  • $17,224 is scholarships and/or grants,
  • $33,778 is loans, and
  • $11,331 is other or miscategorized.

These amounts can vary based on financial need, academic status (and GPA), and what type of program you are enrolled in. For instance, a part-time MBA would obviously receive less aid than a full-time one, etc.

Wait a second, what do I do about the gap?

Based on the information above, the average student is looking at a financial aid gap of between roughly $4,000 and $9,000. This extra money can come from a variety of different sources, but the first I’d recommend is outside scholarships and/or grants. Websites such as ScholarshipPoints.com and StudentScholarshipSearch.com are excellent resources to find free money for school that doesn’t need to be paid back. Considering the debt you likely will be in from going to grad school, this route of financing really is the best case scenario.

If you aren’t able to find enough scholarships, a private student loan or Grad PLUS loan are supplemental options that are credit-based and are flexible enough to cover your extra expenses.

Image Credit to SCSSAPICS on Flickr

02.18.10 | Graduate School – What’s in a name?

Posted in Graduate Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

A question that we receive pretty much daily from our readers is the eternal question of post-undergrad education: should I go for the “name” school?

It actually is a great question, because there are so many pieces that go into choosing the right graduate school for your advanced degree. First, there’s the question of how broad or deep do you want your graduate studies to be? There are generalized degrees like a non-targeted MBA and they go as deep as doctoral studies on the mating habits of tasmanian devils (ok, maybe that was a little random… but you get the point.) In many cases, the super-specialized degrees (like say, geobotany) are actually offered by smaller schools in very targeted locations.

After picking what you want to study, there’s the question of, “how much time can you invest in a graduate degree?” If your answer is relatively little, a part-time or online graduate degree probably is a better fit for you. However, not every graduate degree (like a lab-based science) CAN be completed online, and this should be taken into account.

Harvard Campus

Alright, so what about name and clout? I will say this: going to a “name” school, almost always at least gets the door slightly open for you. However, a company is not going to hire you just because you went to Harvard or Yale, they are going to hire you because you are bright, serious, and took the time to become a valuable asset in your chosen field.

Not to mention, the “name” schools will charge a lot more tuition just by virtue of their brand equity. They have built up this prestige, and are more than happy to siphon your hard earned money into their coffers for a piece of their legacy. If you are committed to going to a big name school, make sure you file your FAFSA on time, get as many scholarships as possible, and get a private student loan if necessary to cover any excess cost. Also, some companies offer partial or full tuition reimbursement if your degree program is related to your job, so you can check into that as well.

In the end, a “name” school can be that extra edge that gets you your dream job — but without a robust résumé of relevant experience and professional personal demeanor, it isn’t enough on its own.

ScholarshipPoints Redemption Code: GOGRAD2010

02.04.10 | Financing an Expensive Graduate Degree

Posted in Graduate Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

College CampusWhen it comes to financing graduate school a lot of students wonder if it is better to choose a lesser-know inexpensive school or a more well-known expensive school. Although this is completely a matter of opinion, there are a few justifications for going to a graduate school with a higher pricetag.

1: Your workplace might have a tuition reimbursement program: If you are going to graduate school while you are working you may be able to take advantage of tuition reimbursement benefits.  This means that your employer will pay for you to take classes as long as they are relevant to your field and could help you in your job.

2: Graduate students can qualify for more federal financial aid: Stafford loan limits are a lot higher for graduate students than they are for undergraduate students. In fact, the lifetime aggregate Stafford loan limit is $138,500 for graduate and professional degree students.

3: You may be able to take advantage of income based repayment: Most students coming out of graduate school have loans to pay off. If your monthly loan payments are very high after graduate school you may qualify for income based repayment.This plan helps borrowers keep payments low with caps based on their income and family size. If a borrower still has a loan balance after 25 years it is forgiven completely.

ScholarshipPoints Bonus Code: GRADTUITION