I’m still waiting to officially hear if I received a Graduate Assistantship for the Economics program here. Unofficially, I have been told they plan to offer me a full assistantship, but are waiting on paperwork. I don’t want to put in my resignation at my job until the paperwork goes through, though – I like my job, and I’d like to still have it if something falls through with the grad program! (And my supervisors know this – I’ve been honest with them about my plans.)
So now, I have a new problem: financing what the GA position doesn’t cover. I think I’ll still be able to work part-time (if I so desire) during the year, even though officially it’s frowned upon for GAs to have other jobs. I think I’m going to take out enough student loans that I don’t have to work, though, if I want to be able to focus more on my coursework.
And since I’m taking out student loans anyway . . . I’m thinking about taking out an extra $10,000 or so. I’ve never been out of the country, but I am very interested in doing International Economics and would like to have a job that involves traveling abroad frequently. The Economics department will probably take two study abroad trips next year, one during January before spring semester starts, and another during May, right after the spring semester ends. Since I didn’t do a study abroad as an undergrad, I’m very interested in doing these trips. I also think it’ll show that I am as interested in traveling abroad and doing international work as I say that I am, since my current lifestyle doesn’t reflect that. The extra $10,000 would be enough to cover the cost of both trips. I think taking out $20,000 total would give me plenty of money for both trips plus any expenses not covered by the stipend.
I didn’t take out any student loans for my undergrad education, and I’m glad I made that decision because I consider my undergrad education to have been pretty useless. Not because I didn’t learn anything, but because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t have a passion for anything, I was there because I was a smart kid and I was supposed to go to college. I’m somewhat wary of taking out so much in loans for grad school, but I’m more comfortable with the idea since I have a direction and a purpose – I actually plan to use the education and the experiences I acquire from the program. Also, since I’m currently in the habit of saving over half of each paycheck, I’ll be able to quickly repay student loans if I continue this habit post-grad school.
What do you think? Am I missing anything major? Will taking out the extra money for the study abroad trips be worth it?