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How does one pay for graduate school?

  1. Oct 29, 2013 #1
    I currently have my math degree, and I am working in the actuarial world. However, I'm considering returning to school to study quantitative finance, because I like economics and it will give me exposure (without requiring ph. D for a job).

    Unfortunately, I'm in mostly financial constraints. I don't want to take out a loan for grad school, and I wasn't quite sure about graduate assistantships. It looks like they pay 6k over 9 months...REALLY! My crappy apt would cost more than that---and I do mean crappy. So I wasn't sure, is that 6k stipend the full amount or does it usually work that graduate assistantships also get say 20 hr/week pay too?

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2013 #2


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    It depends on the school and the degree but something on the order of 16-20 thousand dollars is what I would expect if you are working 20 hours a week, along with full tuition. For example at the University of Michigan if you teach both semesters at a 20 hour per week workload (not 20 hours of actual classtime, 20 hours total worktime) you'll get paid something close to 18,000 dollars.

    School are typically more liberal in giving money to Phd students than masters students though (which it sounds like is what you want to do), so it might be hard to get funding.
  4. Oct 29, 2013 #3
    If you have to pay for graduate school it may not be worth the tons of debt you'll rack up. Student loan debt isn't as easy to payoff as you may think--life happens.

    I can't imagine living off of $18k, that's borderline poverty and you'll still likely need to take out loans to make ends meet if you go to a school near or in a major city.

    Your best bet is to spray and pray as many grant funding apps as you can and hope to land a few grand on top of a stipend.
  5. Oct 29, 2013 #4


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    Have you considered going to school as a just a night student? Many master programs geared towards finance offer many of their programs classes later in the day to have the added benefit of allowing working professionals attend and be part of the class. In fact, in my experience a good deal of financial engineering type programs have a preference towards people who have work experience already. It may take longer, but if it's an option in your area, it's definitely worth a shot.
  6. Oct 29, 2013 #5
    I thought most PhDs in the sciences were paid for by government grants? NIH or something?
  7. Oct 29, 2013 #6
    from op
  8. Oct 29, 2013 #7


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    Remember, a TA stipend is only for the academic year, i.e. 9 months. I remember my initial stipend as a grad student was about $450-$500 per month, 38 years ago, which would be about $1800-$2000 now, after inflation.

    I always had a roommate, first an EE grad student for a couple of years, then a fellow physics grad student. I didn't own a car until my parents gave me their second car during my last year in grad school. I usually made my own meals, brown-bagged a sandwich or something to school, and ate out maybe 2-3 times a week. My social life was mainly hanging out with a group of fellow grad students who were in a similar financial situation. We didn't spend much money on entertainment.
  9. Oct 29, 2013 #8


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  10. Oct 29, 2013 #9
    Thank you all for your replies. I'm looking at the business site and it says, "Stipends for graduate assistantships start at approximately $6,000 - $6,500 per 9 month academic year for master's students and approximately $13,000 - $18,900 per 9 month academic year for doctoral students, with a limited number of tuition waiver fellowships available each fall semester to incoming students new to the PhD program."

    However, the math department stats that for the 9 month period it is a monthly 2k stipend.

    I guess I need to check to make sure that isn't an error.

    Thanks again!
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