MFT Masters Debt: Keep job, cut expenses, optimize aid for better future?

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  • #91817 Reply

      Hello.. I am about to go back to school for my masters in marriage and family therapy. I’ve been avoiding it for the last 5 years because of the debt but this is 100% what I want to do. Once certified my plan is to open a private practice and grow a profitable business. I feel confident that I have the entrepreneurial mind to accomplish this. All in, i will probably have about $100k in debt, although i am working right now to apply for as many scholarships and fellowships, as I can to offset this cost. I have worked very hard to pay off my undergraduate degree. I only have about $7K left from a degree that cost about $65,000.

      I make about $70-75k a year living in California. I’m not sure if I will be able to manage keeping my full time job as many in the program told me they couldn’t manage it and in my undergrad, I struggled to absorb the information since I was working all the time. I would rather take on debt and actually be able to master the information I’m being taught. Including my rent, other expenses, including gas, and groceries I probably have about $2500 to $3K in expenses per month.

      I am considering whether I should try to keep full-time work or if it’s better for me to quit my job and make very little money so I can get better options for aid or other programs while I’m going through school. What are your recommendations? Should I continue to contribute to my Roth IRA, life, insurance policy, etc. during this time? What have you done to make an expensive degree possible? I would appreciate some supportive advice as I embark on this new journey.

      #91818 Reply

        I would go to another country and do the degree for free. That’s what over 30,000 international students, including a few thousand Americans, are doing here. I also have some colleagues doing their PhDs online at foreign universities for under $10k USD. My masters was only $2,600.

        University prices in America are a scam and many Americans are waking up to that fact.

        #91819 Reply

          You need to look at your states licensure requirements. Once you’ve graduated, you usually have to do an additional 2 years or 3000 hours of supervision before you can even apply for your licensure. It varies per state but you won’t be licensed right outside of graduation. And interns typically have discounted rates during that time.

          Secondly, I’d be realistic about opening a private practice immediately after licensed. If you’re in this field, you should be in it for good reason and not money. It’s our duty to “do no harm” and you need to make sure you’ve have ample experience in a wide range of populations and settings before you take on your own business.

          Unless you want your niche demographic to just be rich white couples. However, that won’t make you a well-rounded therapist. Working in community mental health is where you will get the experience needed to work with every presenting problem imaginable, best preparing you for a future in private practice. And doing that, you can’t expect immediate grand income right outside of school.

          Also, check out: Is there anything I can do to get out from under this van debt?

          #91820 Reply

            I don’t know about the flexibility in your role and not to mention how it is in the US but just before embarking on my Masters in Project Management here in Australia, I wanted to see how much continuously working on full time basis while also being a full time Masters student would affect my overall performance.

            With meticulous time management and being present in all areas, I did both without one affecting the other.

            Sometimes, we may surprise ourselves.

            #91821 Reply

              There are jobs also that offer PSL forgiveness.

              #91822 Reply

                What is your undergrad degree in and what line of work are you currently in?What is the job prospect with this master’s degree? Are you successful in getting any scholarships? Is there a PhD option that is fully funded? What is the expected starting salary? How easy/difficult is it to open a private practice? How do you plan to make it profitable? What is profitable? What if it is not? What are your backup plans with the new debt?

                Do you have any savings now? Emergency funds? I personally would not quit my job and take on a large debt without having some sort of savings to live off of. I wouldn’t be able to focus knowing that every penny I spend is borrowed money. I quit my job for an MBA and found the schedule was not as demanding as that of an undergrad program, I ended up going back to work while pursuing the degree.

                Don’t miss: My husband and I (newlyweds, early 40s) are in the process of getting out of credit card debt

                #91823 Reply

                  Can you go and work for a place that provides mental health services and have them pay for your degree? I’ve worked for at least 3 different jobs in mental health that would have paid almost my entire degree..

                  #91824 Reply

                    Speaking as someone with a MH background, I’d be very cautious about the idea of supporting yourself through private practice right out of school.

                    It takes a good bit of time to have a steady caseload, and even then you’re at the mercy of your clients – volume can change at any time and drastically impact your earnings. From a financial perspective, I’d suggest finding a solid W2 straight out of school (perhaps a job at one of your training sites) and open your practice on the side. Take the time to build it up while you work a W2, then make the transition.

                    As far as quitting your job to see if you qualify for aid – that’s totally up to you but there are no guarantees and you could potentially get yourself into a lot more debt than you’re planning on by doing that.

                    Id speak with a financial aid counselor at the university and/or call FAFSA to get some counseling on this.

                    #91825 Reply

                      Scholarships — but maybe you’ll need to commit to working for a community center or non-profit for a few years after graduation. I have a master’s in Rehab Counseling and I received a full ride scholarship from a state organization— I just had to commit to working for them for 4 years (total), which included the 2 years I was working for them prior to getting my degree.

                      I also got some small stipends from a scholarship through my credit union which I used for incidentals such as transportation, books and supplies that weren’t covered by my agency.

                      When my time was up, I went into practice and have been doing very well.

                      Have you seen: 48, 100k income, 211k debt, seeking investment advice?

                      #91826 Reply

                        Before you go do the master, please talk to people who graduated. You need to know if you can gain skills to have your own business or the program is for people who need to find a job. Also see what the job market is like.

                        Ask the program for graduate salary stats.

                        #91827 Reply

                          How old are you?

                          Mental health is not profitable, I’m a licensed provider, you are going to have to have private pay people to make that and it will be a long road. You can become a life coach and see people all over the world and develop your own niche for a lot less than a degree. Practicum while working full time can be done but very difficult.

                          #91828 Reply

                            I’m in the same boat though I’m getting another degree and going to be taking around 30-50k debt. The thing is well my rule I told myself if ima go into debt it has to be less than half my salary so if I start at 100k I’ll do 50k or less. If it’s a 100k degree 200k base salary.

                            An 100k student loan will easily be a 1k or more payment a month once you start working and loans are no longer in deferment.

                            #91829 Reply

                              I planned five years in advance before I applied for a doctorate degree. During that time I paid off every debt, except my mortgage and student loans. Later on, years 4 & 5, I researched and applied for fellowships and scholarships to replace my teaching income. I applied for and took a 2-year leave of absence from my teaching job. I did not contribute to any retirement plans during these first two years. I did have my own life insurance policy.

                              I applied for Medicaid for medical insurance because I also as the single parent of a young son. My student loans went into deferment once enrolled and I continued to pay $100 a month toward the principal. I did not take out any additional student loan debt to pay for my doctorate.

                              I became a National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellow which paid for everything and reimbursed every expense except my gas. It also provided a nice monthly stipend.

                              Every now and then I still worked as a substitute teacher for extra money, but I didn’t have to because I didn’t have a lot of bills. I had a cheap little house with a mortgage of only $560 at the time. By the time I graduated, I had no student loan debt.

                              That was the greatest feeling in the world, to walk across the stage and graduate with my doctorate debt free.

                              Take a peek at: Is taking $60,000 from HELOC a bad idea to pay off credit card debts with 24-29% interest?

                              #91830 Reply

                                Option C, work a less demanding job.

                                Any income you can generate will help offset the debt. There are note taking gigs sometimes, maybe you can work as a dorm director living for free and getting a small salary, maybe elder care living with an older person to provide some light housekeeping and companionship.

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