studentloansOnce you earn a four-year bachelor’s degree, the next step to advancing your career will be earning an advanced master’s degree. While a master’s degree will undoubtedly give you leverage in your field when you are competing for jobs or promotions, you have to consider how much you will spend earning your degree before you start submitting applications or meeting with admissions counselors. One of the biggest complaints of American students today who have a college degree concerns debt and how much debt they were forced to incur to pay for college. While some are lucky enough to have money to pay for college outright, a majority of students must apply for loans. Read on, and learn about the cost of a master’s degree programs and how you can finance this expense.

What is the Average Debt That a Graduate Student Will Incur?

Earning a bachelor’s degree is very important, but with so many job candidates seeking positions in the market, having your master’s degree can really make a difference in all fields. One of the major differences between an undergraduate and gradate level program is that there is much more federal financial aid available to a student who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree. With this being said, there are financial aid packages and private packages in the form of loans that a graduate student can apply for. The amount of debt that you incur will depend entirely on the school that you attend and how long you study to earn your master’s degree. For some, an online degree program may be more financially realistic and may decrease the amount of money you need to borrow. Check out Top 10 Best Online Masters in Computer Science Degrees for more information about online master’s degree programs.

According to a study that was conducted by the Wall Street Journal, students who are attending grad school will incur higher degrees of debt. In fact, the study has revealed that the average graduate debt acquired throughout a student’s career is $43,524 with a total of 831,645 students in the U.S. in debt in 2011. The higher debt brackets not only affect students once they graduate from grad school; they also affect the government. Currently, student loans offered federally are topping the $1 trillion mark, which is higher than it has ever been.

How Can You Effectively Manage Your Student Debt?

In an ideal world, you would be able to complete graduate school without ever receiving a student loan, but this concept is not realistic for many. Be sure to apply for merit scholarships and look into fellowships and teaching/research assistantships, but if these stipends are not enough to cover your tuition and book costs, you may need to turn to loans. When considering student loans, contact a financial adviser to learn about the variety and availability of different types of loans. Such experts should inform you of different interest rates on loans, and should advise you to pay off some of your expenses while you are in school to save on interest. At the time of your graduation, you will have six months to start paying your loan back. You should save up enough to create a safety net for when the loan payments are due so that you can live comfortably and pay down your debt.

Graduate school can really help you advance your career in any field, no matter what the discipline. You need to compare the average salaries for an undergrad and a grad in the field, and determine how long it will take to earn enough to cover the cost of your master’s degree. Once you do the homework and have a good idea of how much debt you can expect to incur for a master’s degree, you can start planning ahead and look for the best types of assistance.

Further Reading:

100 Great Scholarships for Master’s Degree Study