# Using student loans for one semester - necessarily a bad decision?

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1. Dec 12, 2013

### ema9u

I asked this in the career thread so before ti gets pointed out I would like to note I realized this, but since this forum may have a different set of respondents who read these forums, i figured I would ask it here too.

So more about my situation: I am now in the process of completing a Physics PhD and am now fully funded and supported. However, two years ago I had an advisor who who I was having clashes with and so decided to finish a M.S. in his group and then move on to the PHD [ it was a lengthy clash involving personality disputes and political problems within the department which I could probably explain privately if anyone is interested]. However, my PhD advisor I currently have is a theorist who did not have funding at the time and the department could not give funding for one semester, so I had a 8,000 loan for that one semester. I have been funded for every other semester with the typical stipend and am currently fully funded now. But I did have one semester where I could not be funded and so ended up using the loans - my parents also presumed this was the right thing to do so I could finish the PhD that I started.

Now I know that generally, Physics PHDs are not supposed to take out any loans of any kind, and I would never have done this more than once and would for sure have used loans on a regular basis. But do you think that even using one loan was necessarily a horrible thing to do to finish a PhD and was the exact wrong decision to make? Have there been situations where that has been done before in a physics PhD program?

2. Dec 12, 2013

### Student100

This doesn't pertain to your question, but I believe it is against fourm guidelines to post the same question in two different areas. That said, your question appears to be more approatie here, so you may wish to delete the other thread or report the post to a moderator for deletion/closing.

3. Dec 12, 2013

### ema9u

Thanks for reminding me. BTW, do you have an answer for the question I posted above?

4. Dec 12, 2013

### Student100

I'm not a PhD student, but personally I would have done the same thing if there was a hiccup in funding for one semester, I don't imagine in the grand scheme of things that you'll regret taking out the loan.

5. Dec 13, 2013

### ChaseDuncan

Why worry about this decision now? Think forward. We justify our decisions with future action. Make it the right decision by having a good career.

6. Dec 13, 2013

Staff Emeritus
What do you plan to do about it now? Unless you have access to a time machine, what is done is done. Seems like fretting about it won't be very helpul.

7. Dec 13, 2013

### analogdesign

I think you did the right thing. At my university, although I was "fully funded" the stipend was not quite enough to live in my city (rent, food, other expenses) so I ended up getting about $10,000 in student loans total over the six years. When I got my first job, I didn't change my lifestyle much so the extra money paid off the loans. They were literally gone in six months so I ended up not paying much interest on them. So, I suggest you plan to knock that$8k out as soon as your get your postdoc (which will be more than your PhD stipend, but still not a lot)

8. Dec 13, 2013

### ema9u

Thanks for the suggestion. I plan to do that as I know that a postdoc will pay more and I plan on living at least as frugally as a postdoc as I am living now, and may even cut back and am working on making sure I have enough \$ saved so that I can pay as much of it as possible before I even start my postdoc. And, naturally, I made sure to only borrow enough so that I know I can pay it back by living frugally even in an economic worst case disaster scenario where I can only get a blue collar type job.

9. Dec 13, 2013

### Choppy

Generally it's advisable not to take out loads for graduate school because you should be getting a stipend or bursary or scholarship of some sort to cover the costs. This advice is usually targeted towards cases where students are offered admission, but without any financial support for the duration of the program. Often this is a "polite" way of rejecting the student's application. For those that pursue this route they may effectively become second class students.

In your specific case it seems like you had support, and now have support, but for whatever reason that fell through for a semester and you had to take out a loan to support yourself.

I don't think there's anything wrong with that.