|Timestamp||Undergraduate Debt||Graduate Debt||Total Current Debt||Field||Year of Degree Completion||Why did you take out the loans?||What is your plan for repayment?||Institution||Are you employed in the academy?||I have more to say about the employed in the academy question||How much of your debt was offset (or paid for) by parents, grandparents, or other family and loved ones?|
|2/1/2014 12:22:26||0||49996||39245||Geography, Feminist Studies||2008||The loans primarily represent my two-year Master in Public Policy program, which did not come with funding options. I worked through the MPP and PhD (teaching/fellowships/undergrad advisor), but my grad student life was a bit more expensive than my renting peers because I had a mortgage and related expenses, which were expensive even with roommates. (I worked for 6 years between undergrad and grad school; earnings and parental support enabled me to buy a house but didn't allow for saving. Plus, I was in my 20s- saving for future expenses wasn't a strength.)||I have a low repayment plan at a fixed interest rate (for the life of the loan) and have been paying a monthly top-up to bring the sum down faster. Because the rate is fixed and monthly sum is low, I'm not in a hurry to pay it off. (If I had a secure job, I would maximize the monthly top-up to pay the loan off.) I expect to have the loan paid off within 15 years.||R1 Public||yes, insecure, adjunct type position, it's complicated||I had a TT job with a good income, and I would have been able to pay the loan down more quickly if I stayed in that position. However, the TT job was in a remote, rural place; there were a number of things that made it difficult to live there, not least of which was that my partner could not find work. I left that position for a limited term appointment. I hope to stay in academia, but I put quality of life (for myself and my family) first.||I have received monetary Christmas gifts from my grandparents and father for 10 years, and almost all of this money has gone toward paying down my grad school debt.|
|2/1/2014 12:31:06||10000||0||9000||Biological Sciences||2014||I attended Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate, which fortunately has a need-blind acceptance policy; if you are accepted, they will work with you to find ways so you can attend, including pony up extra money. After my sister started college with a horrible financial aid package and we notified Vanderbilt, they found additional money for me, including these loans, to allow her to attend her dream school, and me to stay at mine and finish at Vanderbilt.||My loans are federal, so as long as I am still a graduate student, they are in deferment. I have been saving money to pay the loans bills as soon as I graduate. My current plan is to pray for a postdoctoral position before my savings run out.||R1 Private, US||yes, secure position||None.|
|2/1/2014 12:52:45||0||0||0||Education||2014 (expected)||N/A||N/A||R1 Public||no||Currently on the market||N/A|
|2/1/2014 14:08:08||0||70000||70000||Sociology||2015||To pay for living expenses, medical bills, the funds to move across the country, books, computer, travel to professional conferences, software for doing my research, money to visit my family once a year. I do not make a living wage, and I only get paid 9 months out of the year.||Find a rich dude to marry me, move to a foreign country, work in the black market....if I can't find a good faculty or research job! I refuse to adjunct. I haven't worked this hard to earn poverty wages. I'll crunch numbers for Exxon or JP Morgan before I adjunct.||R1 Public||no||NONE!!|
|2/1/2014 18:09:56||0||45000||37913||Religious Studies||2013||My master's degree (and my spouse's, who did the same degree at the same time) was not fully covered by grants/scholarship, so I worked and took out loans. My doctoral degree was funded at 100% of tuition, but I still had to pay fees (sometimes $1000 per semester), plus living expenses for me, spouse, one young child. My spouse started working full-time when I was in my second year of the PhD and I have worked part-time throughout. We live in the NYC area, which is very expensive.||Work, live very frugally, repay as quickly as possible.||US, Other Ph.D. granting institution||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||My spouse worked through all of my graduate school, covering most of our living expenses through his job. His parents have sent us money on occasion (when our child was born, they sent us a substantial sum and have continued to buy him clothes and gifts regularly - which really helps).|
|2/2/2014 9:04:19||22000||0||18000||Sociology||current student||I took out undergrad loans because I didn't have the means to pay full tuition (either did my mother) and my scholarships and grants didn't cover the entire bill.|
In grad school, I have been on a full fellowship for 5 years. Currently I am in my 6th year. I have served as a teaching assistant and research assistant to make ends meet. I am also partially supported by a working partner. I have not had to spend any more on my graduate education.
|When my undergrad loans come out of being on hold, I hope to have a job that will leave me capable of paying them off quickly.||R1 Private||no||I am still currently a student but plan to finish this year.||A bit of my undergrad tuition was paid by my mother.|
|2/2/2014 13:50:08||2000||1600||1000||Chemistry||2011||During undergrad studies, to top up living expenses. During postgrad, I borrowed money off my boyfriend for living expenses in the final phase of write-up.||All the post-grad debt is now repaid from my post-PhD employment. I'm still paying off the undergrad student loans because these are old UK ones at effectively zero inflation and they're not worth hurrying.||International (not Canadian)||no||I'm here at all because I'm working on a job application for a lecturer position...||None.|
|2/2/2014 15:34:50||2000||0||0||Physics||2006||To supplement government-paid funding for students during undergraduate studies.||Paid everything from postdoc salary.||International (not Canadian)||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||None, but the government (Finland) paid for 80% of rent and some 500$ each month for living.|
|2/2/2014 18:46:45||0||29000||25000||Experimental Psychology||2011||Graduate stipend wasn't enough to live on. I had to replace a dead car during graduate school and had no savings.||Standard 10-year repayment schedule (but paying more than the required monthly payment).||R1 Public, US||no||After adjuncting for a year (where I made 19,000/year with no benefits and didn't have a contract till 2 weeks before each semester started), I moved to the private sector, where I am fully and securely employed as a statistical analyst/developer, using skills I acquired in grad school. For comparison, fiance is TT professor at the local teaching-university. My salary at first post-ac job (15 months) was the same as his academic salary and more than 3x my adjunct salary. My second post-ac job at a small, private company pays 25% better than his salary. My daily well-being/stress levels/self-esteem are vastly improved since I left academia.||As far as I know, my grandparents covered about 6,000 of my undergraduate debt when I graduated (but they may have paid part of the FAFSA's parental contribution--my dad was unemployed/underemployed for 5 of my 8 undergraduate semesters).|
|2/2/2014 19:13:18||5000||140000||140000||Cognitive Psychology||2010||I thought to myself, "I have been admitted into a masters program at an Ivy League school. I MUST take this opportunity." It was a mistake.||I am currently a Ph.D. student, so I have deferred payment for now. I have no plan for repayment at this time.||R1 Private, Ivy, US||no||Zero.|
|2/2/2014 20:47:40||5000||0||0||Medicine and Sociology||2013||I had undergraduate loans going to college right out of high school. My parents did not have money to send me to college, so I took out loans as needed. I took out loans again as a post-bac to take some new courses and refresh my old course from undergrad before applying to graduate school.||I repaid my undergraduate loans slowly, over 8 yrs or so to build up my credit. I paid off the post-bac loans (~6,000) before starting graduate school 15 years later. I made the conscious decision that I would not take out any loans for graduate school, either I would work or someone else would pay for me to be there. I worked full-time during my masters degree (at a different school than undergrad). For my PhD (at a different school than masters), I secured RA and/or TA positions in any department that would hire me. I graduated with zero debt. Honestly, despite my grad school salary being about $1500/mo, I lived very well on that.||R1 Public, US||yes, secure position||I did everything you said not to do- I cold-called a chair about 1.5 years before I was due to graduate. I expressed my interest in a tenure-track faculty position at the institution. I arranged a meeting and toured the facilities and met with the chair. About 8 months later, I was contacted that they had created a new tenure-track position. I interviewed about 3 months later and was hired 4 months before my dissertation was done. My salary is close to $90K.||None. My family were all laborers who did not attend college. All of my schooling over the last 20 years was paid by me and me alone. I worked part-time and full-time jobs, in addition to RA/TA in grad school, whatever I could get to pay my way. I set a goal and stuck to it.|
|2/2/2014 21:12:51||0||150000||160000||Art History||2013||The first $50K funded my two (useless) M.A.'s in Museum Studies (3rd tier @ $30K) and Art History (2nd tier @ $20K). The rest came during my 7-years in a 2nd tier Art-History PhD, which at times offered good but never full funding. The best year paid around $30K. The locale was expensive and with conferences, funded research trips, and the terms when teaching pay was still not enough, I used loans to supplement my income. They sure added up!||Though I made a very wise decision in marrying a partner with a high-paying career and good family, I am responsible for paying my own debts. Sounds fair enough, but when adjunct pay will only cover my cell phone and subway pass, it is easier said than done. Lately, adjunct positions have been really competitive and hard to come by (I cannot compete with the abundance of adjuncting 1st-tier PhDs in my region). Therefore, I'm starting to doubt my future in academia. I need to find another career/source of income! Teaching high school with a PhD was not what I imagined I would do, but that is looking more and more attractive to me.||R1 Public, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position, it's complicated||My recurring adjunct experience: at the interview it is the institution selling me, not the other way around, usually promising 2-3 courses per semester, but always only offering one and rescinding the two other offers at the last minute. I ought to be more aggressive, I suppose, but doing 100 doomed FT applications each job season, going after 40+ local schools every 4 weeks for adjunct prospects, writing, informational interviewing for possible tracks in higher-ed admin and the private sector, trying to figure out how to pay my bills, staying on top of current research and the status of my competition is a bit more than I can manage these days. Time to get creative?||Family paid for college, god bless them. I started grad school with a fair lump of my own cash (all gone). Parents have helped in big ways over the years -- things could be have been much, much worse, which still leads me to seriously question my intelligence. If I wasn't married I'd be close to homeless, I think, and desperately looking for an exit strategy. I suspect there are many reasonably paid jobs out there that just need to figure out how to identify, qualify, seize, live with, and be happy. Either way, I am responsible for having gotten myself into this mess. It is becoming legitimate to wonder if I can ever not be a failure and make it out alive.|
|2/3/2014 6:25:17||120000||65000||185000||microbiology||2007||Tuition, rent, car insurance||Monthly installation, income contingent for now...||R1 Private||yes, secure position||None|
|2/3/2014 8:17:16||8000||0||0||Anthropology||2001||On my own for undergrad education. Scrimped and starved at a state school. Full funding for grad school and did not take out any additional loans, despite housing costs doubling by end of PhD program.||All loans repaid in four years of TT employment.||R1 Public||yes, secure position||I have seen too many bright people snookered into the promise of higher education. TT jobs are increasingly rare, and tenure votes often arbitrary. Debtors beware!||2K/ year from grandparents throughout undergrad and grad, plus small 5K inheritance. No contribution from parents.|
|2/3/2014 8:26:49||0||0||0||Religious Studies||2013||R1 Public||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||Parental supplement is what made it possible for me to not have any debt.|
|2/3/2014 8:28:01||0||10500||15000||Communication||2017||To cover tuition and fees that my assitantship did not pay for the first year of my M.A.||To pay over time, I plan on having my M.A. debt paid off or nearly paid off by the time I complete my PhD, but I do not intend on going to back for my PhD unless I'm funded through an assistantship.||US||no||None|
|2/3/2014 8:45:59||0||40000||36000||Italian||MA - 2008 PhD - 2015?||My MA program only offered me funding for the summer portion of the program. Since I went into the MA with no student debt, I decided to take out $40,000 for my one year MA to cover tuition and living expenses. I thought I'd have a little left over at the end to kick-start my repayments, but my program was in Italy and the dollar tanked that year, so I ended up coming out even. I made monthly payments for 2 years before starting my PhD, which is funded. My loans are now in forbearance, but I plan to pay them pay them back after I complete my PhD. I've taken advantage of income-adjusted payments in the past. I feel like I took out this loan with a clear understanding of the financial burden/consequences, but most importantly I think it was a good investment in my education.||Monthly payments once I finish my PhD and the loans are no longer in forbearance.||R1 Public, US||no||I'm currently a PhD student and I have not had to take out any student debt to cover this chapter of my academic career. My 9 month stipend is on the lower side of the national average, but I've managed to budget well for the past 4 years and haven't had any significant hardships.||My parents paid for my undergraduate education - I grew up knowing that they would cover 4 years of school, and it was considered my job to get a degree in that time. I know that they decided to take out loans to pay for tuition (the rates were low enough 2003-2007 that they felt like there was an advantage there) but I don't know how much they took out. They have paid off those loans completely.|
|2/3/2014 8:46:02||40000||60000||110000||Anthropology||2012||To cover living expenses & tuition, front field work costs, and more than just a little bit of stupidity.||income based repayment.||R1 Public, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||0|
|2/3/2014 8:47:37||32800||43800||76600||Music||2012||My undergrad loans covered the balance after scholarships/grants and the half of my tuition expenses that my parents paid. During grad school, my stipend only covered the first 5 years of the PhD, after which I had to take out loans to cover everything else (including a punitive tuition charge for not finishing after 7 years).||My spouse has a high-paying job (as well as a lot of student debt), so we will pay both of our loans off gradually with a frugal lifestyle.||R1 Private, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||In addition to adjunct work, I have secure employment in publishing/editing. I went through the TT job search for two years, never making it past the phone interview stage. I will not be going through the TT search process again. It's too depressing and the odds are stacked against the job seekers. There are too few academic positions out there, and in my field, nowadays you have to be able to cover a number of subspecialties that were previously taught by 3-4 individuals.||$60,000 from my parents during undergrad.|
|2/3/2014 10:05:31||20000||60000||70000||Communication||2014||To help pay for everything during undergrad and my masters. Family made enough income to not qualify us for grants, etc. but with 6 kids, 3 kids in college at one point, my family wasn't able to help with tuition and most living expenses. My Phd is funded and actually provides me with an okay living situation. but I have been accruing interest for my past loans. My MA program was the big problem. First year I had out-of-state tution and a teeny tiny living stipend for only one semester. 2nd year it was a little better, but not much.||chip away at the debt slowly but surely||R1 Private||no||I'm still working on my PhD||My dad helped me with living expenses during undergrad and a bit during grad school. My spouse is helping immensely with living expenses now and throwing chunks of money towards my loans.|
|2/3/2014 10:08:08||186000||Biology||2014||Simply, for cost of living. The grant paid most of the tuition, but what it didn't cover e.g. fees and books, I needed loans. The [living] stipend fluctuated over the 5 years of my matriculation from $26k to $30k, then in my last year to $23k, barely enough for me to pay my household bills, then buy gas and food.||I will get a repayment plan that is based on my income, and may get a job that allows for the debt to be forgiven after 120 on-time payments. I am trying to work something out within my own household where I can raise a majority of the money to get it out from over my head. I have tried, and cannot refinance my mortgage for a lower payment because of "anticipated debt." This is very discouraging, especially since I qualify for HARP. I may just leave the US. They debt is going to outlive me, more than likely.||R1 Public, R1 Private, US||no||Yes, only to the degree that my stipend is paid by the institution I'm attending. I defend this year.||NONE!|
|2/3/2014 10:22:12||0||160000||90000||Archaeology/Anthropology||2014||I tried working outside of the department for my first 4 years of graduate school, in an effort to keep loans down. I was accepted to the program, but was not offered any funding aside from one, maybe two TA-ships per year, if I was lucky. I had to support myself, pay tuition, and pay the rent in an expensive area (Santa Barbara). I ended up getting full funding for three years after my first 4, which was great. Tuition was taken care of (which has almost doubled since I began the program in 2005), health care, and a salary year-round. But the salary alone was barely enough to cover my rent and groceries each month, so I still needed to take out loans. I worked contract jobs on the side, which helped a lot, but I was discouraged from doing this by my advisors, as it "distracted" me from my progress.||I was at a complete loss, and did not want to even think about it until after graduation. I felt crushed by the amount of debt I had but there was nothing I could do about it at the time, if I wanted to finish my PhD. I got extraordinarily lucky, and met my now husband, who has helped me pay down my debt. At least the part of it that was accruing interest at a high rate while I was still in school. He is a professor at a different university, and was shocked by the amount of debt I had. At this point, with his help, I feel less crushed by the weight of my debt, and look forward to paying it off as soon as I get a full time job. Which may not end up being in academia, as contract work in archaeology pays much better. Given the amount of debt I have, I don't know if I can afford to stay in academia!||R1 Public, US||no||My husband has recently paid a substantial portion of my debt, to keep the amount of accrued interest down. My parents were amazing, and paid for my undergraduate education, but anything beyond that was on me.|
|2/3/2014 11:17:52||0||0||0||Anthropology||2015||R1 Public, US||None, I had scholarships|
|2/3/2014 12:20:33||0||50000||200000||Anthropology||2011||To cover the cost of living in L.A. while I completed my masters and PhD at UCLA over ten years. I worked every quarter as a T.A. or Research Assistant, so my tuition and fees were covered (thanks to the T.A. union) but living costs exceeded my income so I took out the loans. Also, I was required to do masters fieldwork abroad for Anthropology with no funding from my department and so paid for a summer of international research on my own dime.||Every month, I fork over $473.00 to Sallie Mae and the Dept. of Ed. If I could pay off the high-interest loans sooner, I would do that (some are at 8.75%).||R1 Public, US||yes, secure position||2nd year Assistant Professor||zero|
|2/3/2014 14:43:50||100000||50000||195000||Education||2013||When I was completing my undergrad, I was unable to secure funding from my parents, so I was left to take out student loans. My Master's was completely paid for. My Ph.D. was 40% paid for through a grant from the university I attended. In all I have really 100,000 of loans, but I have added so much to my debt from interest it was now made what I owe closer to $200,000.||Consolidate new loans with old loans and have a repayment plan according to my salary.||US||no||I am a K-12 special education teaching looking to transition to higher education.||None. My parents thought college was important, but never thought to put aside money for my education. I have taken out student loans from 18 years old. While I did not plan to take out loans for my doctorate, I could not afford life expenses and tuition. In addition, it took a bit longer for me to complete my dissertation, which added several more semesters to the bill.|
Let me say this, while I am overwhelmed that I owe $200,000 in student loans, I do not regret my choice to take out student loans. It would be nice to not have this much debt hanging above my head, but I am grateful that there was a way for me to complete college and make a better life for myself.
|2/3/2014 15:16:41||0||0||0||History||2014 (May)||n/a||n/a||Ivy||no||ABD, finishing in May. Currently searching for private school teaching jobs.||My parents paid 100% of my (in-state public school) college expenses. I received ample funding through my grad program and through external fellowships. I was one of the lucky ones. This (in the neighborhood of 30K a year) was strictly-speaking "enough" for me to get by on, but only because I made certain sacrifices (e.g., living with roommates--arrghh!). My parents did help with extra expenses which gave me some wiggle room, gave me some disposal money that made research trips more enjoyable, etc. In retrospect, I definitely could have funded graduate student entirely without their help, but it would have made money a lot tighter and would have all but eliminated my disposable income. However, the sacrifices I did make to make this workable are starting to wear at age 28 (as opposed to 22 when I started). I want nice things! And no roommates! I feel tied to a college-like quality of life until I graduate, as opposed to my college friends who have moved on and are living better lives.|
I am lucky.
|2/3/2014 19:54:24||4400||100000||100000||English||ABD||In both cases, to supplement the funding I received from my institutions. I am from a very poor, single-parent family--the eldest of three children. I did very well in high school, and I went to a prestigious and very expensive private university for undergrad. My scholarships at the university covered tuition and gave me funding for one summer study opportunity (and that had to be chosen VERY carefully so that the few thousand dollars I was allotted would completely cover it plus leave a little pocket money) and I relied on grant monies from the university, the state, and the federal government to cover housing, fees, board, and books. The student loan (a Perkins loan), however, was necessary for small out of pocket expenses such as phone bills, medication, clothing, and trips home for holidays (when the University was closed and I had to leave the dorm. I never traveled otherwise.)|
In graduate school, again I was "fully funded" and with one of the most generous and prestigious fellowships offered by my "Public Ivy" graduate university, but the stipend was still not quite sufficient to support a single adult in a relatively expensive college town. It also only paid out over the nine months of the fall and spring semesters, so in the summers I was without funds, and it only lasted for five years, when most folks took at least seven to complete the program. I had other fellowships also worked part-time during my later years, but it still was not quite enough to stay afloat, though I lived quite modestly, worked part-time, and taught extra classes in the summers. My one real extravagance was that I insisted on living alone, which I felt was only proper considering I was in my late twenties/early thirties and did not feel I could work productively with a housemate or five. It didn't seem an unreasonable expectation.
In my last year of full-time residence I was offered a dissertation fellowship with the stipulation that I could not teach or work while on the fellowship. I knew it would be catastrophic, as I relied on my side work to keep the bills paid in full and on time, but I let my professors talk me into accepting it as it was a bit of a coup for our department. That year nearly ruined me financially, reducing my already-small income by a third. I really don't know what I would have done without the student loans (and the part-time job I hid from them).
I wondered how on earth my classmates were able to spend summers doing nothing but reading, go on trips to Europe, throw weddings, have babies, buy real estate, expensive gadgets, and new cars--but upon closer examination, a number were able to do those things because of significant assistance from family members.
|I left my program as I got close to finishing the dissertation, when I obtained a full-time position outside of the academy. This position pays as well and probably a little better than what I would receive as an assistant professor. It's still not nearly enough to be able to afford the full student loan payments and still feed and house myself, so for now, I am on an income-based repayment plan for my Stafford Loans, which helps a great deal. However, it's still a sizeable chunk of my income each month, and it increases each year that my salary increases, so although I am making much more money now than I did when I joined the company three years ago, it really doesn't much feel like it. |
Because my employer is a non-profit, if I remain with the company I should be able to have my loans forgiven via the Public Service Education Loan Forgiveness program in about another 7 years (if that program continues to be--dear me I hope it does!!!) I don't expect I'll be able to do much more than remain current on the loans until then.
|R1 Public, R1 Private||no||I left the academy for a number of reasons, but one was the shaky job market and overall affordability issue. Coming from a background of extreme financial insecurity, I couldn't throw myself into the profession, hoping for the best, as a number of my peers seemed to expect to do (and as my professors seemed to expect me to do as well). I HAD to have work, or I simply would not be able to live. I could not rely on family for assistance. I could not afford to hang out in grad school for a while longer, or pick up a few classes here and there, or bounce from temporary position to temporary position, as it appeared I'd be expected to do if I did not secure a tenure track position right out of the gate. Basically, the day I returned from MLA interviews I set about polishing my resume and applying for nonacademic positions--being gainfully employed by that September was non-negotiable. |
I succeeded in that, but the downside of all of that is that I did not finish my dissertation--the new job required too much of my energy and time--and I'm timing out of my program now. So now I have all this debt for basically a master's degree and PhD exams.
|None. They don't really know anything about it, and wouldn't be able to help me if they did. My siblings are struggling with their own debts and my parents have no resources. I am unmarried, so I don't have a spouse to help with debts or even share living expenses.|
|2/3/2014 20:03:19||0||35000||0||Library Science (MS), Archaeology (PhD)||1990, 2014||I went to Library School at an Ivy. I couldn't believe I was accepted (I completed my application in mid August). When I arrived I learned that there was no financial aid, so I took out $16,500 of loans. Somehow I managed to pay another $4500 in tuition from my own pocket, I don't remember how - I was making $17,000 a year as a library clerk. |
Just now checking my records, I see I took out $4,000 in the first year of my PhD program (same ivy), that was the only year I wasn't funded but I worked full time there to get tuition reimbursement until they picked up up with full funding. Could have been the habit of taking out loans when things got tight.
|Last year I finally paid off my loans, which were borrowed between 1988-1995, I couldn't make the payments at my first jobs before I went back to school, so my loans went into default. They therefore were transferred to a private state agency who over the next 20 to get another $15,000 from me in interest and fees. They were able to charge 10% to process every payment I made to them - there was no way to stop it, even though for 7 years I was a full time PhD student.|
Finally they garnished my wages, when I finally became a tenured assistant professor at an urban public university. The last payment was taken out of my paycheck at the end of October, 2013.
|Ivy||yes, secure position||The loans I took out and the way I was fleeced by this public/private state agency that is supposed to help students is very valuable to me. It helps me relate better to our very poor students, who already come from family with a lifetime of debt. Hopefully it will not happen to them, but it probably will.||none|
|2/4/2014 5:58:05||0||0||0||Astronomy||2009||R1 Public||yes, secure position|
|2/4/2014 6:08:55||0||25500||3800||Psychology||2009||Additional money for living expenses, despite my assistantship that included a tuition waiver and small stipend.||I paid off the higher interest loans quickly and have left the low interest loan. I'll have it paid off by 2018 by making minimum payments.||R1 Public||yes, secure position||None was paid by them, though my parents did things like buy me plane tickets home, offset my rent with about $200/month for a few years of grad school, etc.|
|2/4/2014 10:42:01||15000||120000||135000||anthropology||2013||Initially to pay for tuition at my undergrad institution. At my first graduate institution, I received a partial scholarship and then took out loans to pay for the rest of my expenses. I continued to do so with varying levels of support from my PhD institution. I worked as a teaching assistant, lecturer, or adjunct prof for all but the first year of graduate school and during my fieldwork, for a total of nine years of work while still accumulating debt. Part of this was my own poor decision making, but part of it was also necessary in order to keep afloat as I worked through school.||Putting it off until I can secure a job. This is an awful plan, btw, because the interest is accumulating fast.||R2, US, Other Ph.D. granting institution||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||I'm not making enough to pay my rent, let alone get to work on my debt.||0|
|2/4/2014 12:29:40||0||0||0||Political Science||4||No loans, thankfully.||NA||R1 Public, US||no||I am still in graduate school. I'll be going on the job market next year, and I'm uncertain about how well (or poorly) it will go. My department is very good about finding funding for graduate students--even though it is considerably below the usual for Polisci departments--so I should be good for a second go at the market, if needed. But after that, I'll be in some hot water, I expect.||I was lucky to have parents augment undergraduate grants and scholarships, so I had no loans or debt from undergrad. I've paid for graduate school and living expenses during that time by myself. However, it has often meant living frugally and collecting multiple jobs in the department. For instance, in Fall 2013, I was a teaching assistant for one course, grader for another, co-lecturer for a third, an administrative assistant, and a research assistant. It's wearing to work so much and still try to keep up with the scholarly work of research, grant-writing, dissertation, and publishing.|
|2/4/2014 12:30:56||14000||34000||$48,000||History||2014||I took out the loans to help cover living costs. I had help from my family in undergrad, and I worked, but it was still not enough to cover everything. I have had full funding in graduate school and was lucky enough to receive several national grants for international travel but 15K a year is not enough to live on, even when living modestly.||I will have income based repayment plan. If I work outside of academia, I hope to get some sort of partial repayment from my employer.||R1 Public||no||Final semester. I am on the academic job market but will look for other jobs if nothing turns up.||My family paid for undergraduate tuition.|
|2/4/2014 12:38:41||5000||10000||0||Engineering||2003||Loans not needed for PhD||No loans||R1 Public||no|
|2/4/2014 13:52:17||0||0||0||Environmental Toxicology||2013||NA||NA||R1 Public, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||I am a postdoc with the US Government with a 2 year contract.|
|2/4/2014 14:21:22||0||0||0||Religious Studies||2001||I didn't need to take out any loans. I am the daughter of a professor, so my undergraduate tuition was covered. This, for reasons I'd rather not get into, caused a lot of tension within the family, arguments, guilt, and eventually an estrangement which has lasted to this day, so I would not by any stretch say that my tuition was "free". I sometimes wonder whether it would have been better to have some debt and still have a family.|
I finished my Ph.D. under a "full-ride" scholarship in a small town, teaching 1 or 2 courses most semesters, and graduated debt-free. I ate rice and ramen and (almost literally) nothing else, and lived in the same one-room studio apartment for 7 years. I have never owned a car and bought new clothes maybe once a year. It was a pretty monastic life. It worked out, but then I couldn't get a TT job, and eventually bailed on the academe entirely.
|N/A||R2, US, Canada||it's complicated||I am in a secure position in a community college, but I no longer teach, thank Christ. My job description officially calls for a B.A., and my co-worker in the same position is 15 years younger than I am. But even so, I think this is better than the alternative.||See above in re: being the daughter of a professor -- so I would say all of my undergraduate was covered (albeit indirectly and, as I said, with non-financial costs). I covered my graduate program all by myself through fellowships and mini teaching gigs -- never realized how unusual that is! But I'm not sure that's a happy ending, since the academe let me down in the end, and in 2007 I landed in a position that in theory I could have gotten in 1995 (and to which I could have added 10 years of raises and retirement funds).|
|2/5/2014 8:42:37||0||3500||56000||Religion||2007||My $12,000 stipend did not cover university fees (=one month's stipend) or cost of living in Atlanta, especially given the impact of already living on a very low income for 3 years in my MDiv program (religion PhD's have to have Master's degrees before they apply; we don't get them "en route" like many other humanities folks). Our student insurance policy covered 60% of negotiated charges, and I had some pretty big medical bills. I had NO family support for my education and living expenses - I'm a first generation college graduate with a very low-income background.||I pay $350/month, which was fine, until my tenure-track position was eliminated just as I came up for review, with every expectation of being granted tenure. Now I'm trying to figure out how to draw unemployment when the system is geared toward hourly wage workers. Obviously being 'released' at the end of my sixth year means that, as a candidate, I now have red flags on my c.v.||R1 Private, US||no||(see comment above)||none|
|2/5/2014 11:01:40||40000||160000||213000||Psychology (PsyD)||2012||I was given a 1/2 time assistantship at my State university in PA that paid for 1/2 of my tuition. Unfortunately, I was not told as an out of state resident that I would NEVER gain residency tuition status during my time at the school. The assistantship ended up paying only the out of state portion of my tuition costs and really contributed no help to the cost of my schooling.||I am currently working as an assistant professor in upstate NY. I make $55,000 a year. I am presently on the IRB program with the hopes of getting Public Service Loan Forgiveness in 10 years. However, that clock hasn't even started. My loans have been in forbearance since I graduated. I am currently trying to pay off credit card debt that I accrued for living expenses while in graduate school so I can pay my $500 a month student loan payment. |
Rather than saving for a house, I will spend the next 10 years saving to pay the taxes on the balance of my loans that will be forgiven. As most of they money from my loan payments will only cover interest I will likely have around $170,000 left on my loan balance when it is forgiven. Unless something miraculous happens I will never be able to save enough money to pay the taxes on that debt forgiveness. I honestly don't know what I will do. I just try to take it one day at a time.
|R2, US||yes, secure position||None|
|2/5/2014 11:16:48||29247||0||26249||Neuroscience||2011||Undergraduate institution kept raising tuition & fees, while lowering the scholarship component of my financial aid package. (Note that peak undergraduate debt was probably more like $35000, as I could not afford to pay the interest on my undergraduate loans as a PhD student, so it all capitalized upon my graduation from my PhD program...)||Assuming I stay employed, I'm just going to keep paying them down. I have other, worse forms of debt accrued during graduate school due to a traumatic divorce, so I'm frankly more focused on them.||R1 Public, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||Currently a postdoc, interviewing this season for TT and NTT faculty positions.||None.|
|2/5/2014 12:43:16||0||92000||92000||History + Middle Eastern Studies + Creative Writing||2014||To supplement fellowships and savings during 10 years of grad school. This year's loans went to medical expenses (I had giant copays for a sudden hospitalization).||Set up income-contingent payment plan spread out over 20 years. I have prep school teaching experience and can make payments with a prep school income.||R2, R1 Private, US, International (not Canadian)||no||None. I consider my graduate degrees a luxury item. (I was born in the seventies, when a grad degree wasn't a virtual prerequisite for an entry-level job.)|
|2/5/2014 16:59:54||$144,637||Anthropology||2009||As an undergraduate, I wasn't very responsible and had to pay for my education if I wanted to finish it. As a graduate student, I chose an M.A. program that had very little in the way of funding for its students but it was close to home and my job. I also knew nothing about external funding from sources like NSF, Ford Foundation, etc. until I was submitting Ph.D. applications. In my Ph.D. program I had to decide between debt and finishing my degree in 5 years. I chose the latter.||I am enrolled in the Income Based Repayment plan and I have been keeping myself informed about the loan forgiveness program. My plan for repayment is to just keep writing the checks.||US||yes, secure position||I am employed in a tenure eligible position at a state university that historically has emphasized teaching over research and is now demanding more research without lightening the teaching load. I teach a 3:2 load, sit on a minimum of 10 M.A. committees year-to-year (about 1/2 of which I chair), and currently chair our program assessment committee. My salary is well below the national average for my discipline.||None|
P.S. I kept getting an error message that said "Must be a Number" (or something like that) when I filled in the spaces for Undergraduate and Graduate Debt. Undergrad: about $28,000 and $116, 637 for graduate but it's hard to tell because all my loans are consolidated.
|2/5/2014 21:19:48||0||65000||49000||Slavic||1997||Living expenses (self and family).||R1 Public, US||yes, secure position||Secure, but not tenure-track: professional library position.||None.|
|2/5/2014 23:26:11||0||100000||100000||Geology||2011 PhD||I was fully funded by TA and RA assignments as a graduate student until my final year. But "full funding" was nowhere near enough to survive with the cost of living in my city, so I had to take out loans every quarter. These add up very quickly. And there was no way I could have finished my degree if I hadn't done what I did in my final year -- I knew that I needed to spend 100% of my time working towards completing my dissertation. There were TA positions available that I could have taken, but I knew I wouldn't be able to do this and finish my degree as well. So I decided to take out loans to cover all my living expenses and I was able to complete my degree...at great expense.||I currently hold a forbearance because my current position as a postdoc pays barely enough to cover the cost of living. Once the forbearance is up, I will be paying off the loans on an income-contingent plan, meaning my payments will be adjusted based on my income level each year. However, I am certain that a payment level that is affordable for me will not even begin to cover the interest that is accruing on the loans. Thus I am looking forward to a day in the future where I will have been making payments for 25 years -- according to my payment program, the remainder should be forgiven after 25 years. Keeping my fingers crossed that this promise will be kept.||R1 Public, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||I have been employed as a postdoc doing research at an R1 institution for almost 3 years now. However, my contract will be up in about six months so I have been actively searching for a permanent position. No permanent academic position has turned up so far, so I may soon be looking into alternatives. However, I am not particularly keen about an "adjunct" position after having grown up seeing my mother slaving away for many years as an extremely poorly-compensated "adjunct" college instructor.||My family was not able to pay for any educational costs for me or my two younger sisters, so we all accrued debt while earning our post-graduate degrees. I was lucky enough to have been awarded enough undergrad scholarships to have finished my undergrad degree debt-free. Accomplishing the same feat as a PhD student was not possible. However, one of my sisters is now even worse off than me, having just finished veterinary school with over $160k in debt along with most of her classmates. My other sister ended up with about $40k debt by the end of her master's program (which paid only $700/month) but got a well-paying position *far* outside of academia and has paid it off. Lucky her.|
|2/6/2014 7:58:51||0||24000||22000||Anthropology||2013||To maintain an admittedly not-so-spartan standard of living. Most of this money was spent on good food and beer.||$700/month for a few years.||R1 Public, US||yes, secure position|
|2/6/2014 8:10:57||0||125000||125000||Public Health||2018 (expected)||I was not provided funding by my academic institution. I work full-time, but my salary is not enough to cover the high cost of tuition.||Public Service Loan Forgiveness.||R1 Private, US||no||None|
|2/6/2014 10:18:02||0||90000||90000||Religious Studies||2014||My spouse and I started a family in the middle of my Ph.D. program, and my department's stipend was too meager for us to survive. So I took odd jobs here and there while I completed my Ph.D., but I still had to take out a small loan to supplement the income. While I can't verify this, I believe the choice we made to start a family factored into the department chair's decision not to offer me a further year of funding. A further year of funding was offered to other students who had fewer publications, fewer awards, and who were no further along in the program than I. None of them had children. It then became necessary to withdraw larger loans for several years.||Work, work, work, and hopefully my spouse can work too. I also need to make sure to out-live my co-signor and to avoid living in a community property state. This way, if I die before the loans are paid (which seems likely), my spouse and children won't be burdened with the remaining debt.||R1 Private, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||My advisor's yearly salary was $250k, not including benefits, travel grants, etc. That's roughly 14x my stipend and roughly 17x the stipend of many other students in the department. Most of the professors in the department make well over six figures in a city with a low cost of living. I know this is unrealistic, but if professors would only be willing to be paid less, students could possibly receive livable stipends and a few more positions would open up, resulting in a larger and more diverse department. I myself would be thrilled to work for $60-80k, with benefits, doing what I love with a group of interesting colleagues. It certainly beats the underemployment of adjuncting. Sadly, it is unrealistic to think I can teach college students for anything beyond $30-40k, which is, according to statistics, probably lower than the salary of my daughter's kindergarten teacher.||$0|
|2/6/2014 14:10:55||0||0||0||Neuroscience||2005||N/A. I would not have chosen to go to grad school if I had needed to take out loans or ask for financial help from my parents.||N/A||R1 Private, US||it's complicated||Currently employed in academia full time, but on the job market for a tenure track position. As painful as it will be, if I am not successful looking for an tenure track position, I am willing to apply my skill set to another line of work.||My undergraduate degree was paid for by 75% academic scholarships and about 25% directly by my parents. A child of self-employed high school educated work-a-holics, I worked multiple hourly wage jobs starting at age 12 or 13 to build a modest savings and I worked part-time throughout college during the school year and full time during summers. Graduate school was paid for through a research stipend and a training grant that I obtained. My partner (also a grad student) and I both participated as biomedical research subjects to earn extra income and we shopped in thrift and discount stores, knew where every dime went, and couponed. While we lived paycheck to paycheck for about 5 years, we never carried a balance on a credit card nor dipped below cash reserves. Birthday/Christmas/etc gifts from relatives totaled about 5-10% of our annual income and were used diligently for living expenses/books/fees. I have made some fiscally responsible choices, but I recognize that I have been very fortunate to have generous and loving parents (and in-laws), excellent health, and a life partner who also emerged from undergraduate and graduate school debt-free.|
|2/6/2014 15:20:09||9500||24000||24000||B.A. Biology/Music, M.S. International Agricultural Development, PhD Horticulture and Agronomy||B.A. 2004, Working on M.S. and PhD||I took out the loans in graduate school, because I have a family, and my living expenses for my family were not covered by the stipend I was given. Also, I incurred most of the debt during my 3rd year, when I was transitioning between the M.S. and PhD program, and i didn't have secured funding.||Monthly payments!||US||no||None|
|2/6/2014 17:19:03||28000||122000||150000||Sociology||2015||For tuition, cost of living in the Bay Area, medical expenses, and research.||Income-based plan||R1 Public, US||yes, secure position||None. I come from a working-class family and often loaned or gifted money to relatives.|
|2/7/2014 8:31:30||0||17000||16500||English||2012||living expenses (car, etc)||Very gradual... Making the minimum payment right now||R1 Private, US||no||No jobs (duh) so I'm freelancing and making 2k-4k per month||None|
|2/7/2014 11:30:34||0||0||0||Oceanography||2010||Loans were not needed for graduate school as science PhD's are fully funded on a livable wage (about 25K in SoCal).||R1 Public, US||yes, secure position, it's complicated||Undergraduate degree was paid for completely by grandparents.|
|2/7/2014 15:23:31||0||110000||95000||Accounting||2004||LIving expenses for my self and family of three. Wife worked, but as a school teacher she could not support me and two of the three kids in college at the same time.||Steadily paying it off through a 30 year repayment of $516.14 per month.||R1 Public||yes, secure position||Luckily my degree was in a very lucrative field and I can easily afford the debt on my $160,000 per year salary as a tenured Associate/Department Chair. I had thought about paying off earlier by making larger payments but the interest is less than 2% so it makes moire sense to pay other debt first (mortgage, etc.).||None. I am paying it off by my and my souse's wages.|
|2/8/2014 9:56:14||0||98517||98517||Oceanography||2014||I first took out loans to pay for my Master's degree because I didn't know at the time that it was customary in my field to find an paid assistantship and have tuition waived. I also had to work full time so I had to find a program that was non-traditional. |
I took more loans out for my PhD to aid in the fees that my PhD assistantship (usually $1200/sem) didn't cover and to help with everyday living expenses because it was difficult to survive off the the small salary provided by my assistantship.
|I plan to do the Loan Forgiveness for Public Service program to have my loans discharged after 10 years of on-time payments.||R1 Public||no||0|
|2/8/2014 11:08:16||0||0||0||Sociology||2014||My family paid for my undergrad degree (in another country, and it was cheaper than in the US). For graduate school I had a scholarship from my country for six years (the university's package was very limited). I could not have done it without that funding, especially because I have a child. I taught as an adjunct and TA and obtained additional scholarships when my country's funding ran out. Were it not because of my spouse's income, I would have taken $8000 in loans the last year, in order to finish in time.||N/A||R1 Private, US||I will graduate this semester||0|
|2/8/2014 19:58:41||20000||40000||30000||Education||2008||um, I was broke?||keep chipping away||R1 Private, Ivy, US||yes, secure position||I'm at a lower tier institution, but happy about it.||$0|
|2/9/2014 16:26:20||54000||8000||8900||Education-Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Track||2003||Most of my loan (40k) was undergraduate debt for my second undergraduate degree. I was willing to take out the second loan because I knew I would be in a position to pay the loan back quickly. |
I took out a loan for my first undergraduate degree because my parents were not a position to help me pay.
|I will be finished paying off the rest of my loan in 18 months. I paid off the higher interest loans first and was able to make more than the minimum payments from the start.||R1 Public, US||no||After some a VAP and some adjunct work, I left the academy to work in health care. This was the best decision for me.||In graduate school (MS/PhD), my partner was fully funded in a wealthy field. Frugal living, good health and no children kept our collective debt to a minimum. If I wasn't in this situation financially, I would left my PhD program and found other work. I come from a working class background and I value having little to no debt.|
|2/9/2014 23:31:21||0||0||0||Music||2012||I was lucky enough between family assistance and merit-based aid to come out of school with no loans personally attached to me.||n/a||R1 Public, Ivy||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||Parents covered the cost of undergraduate education. Graduate education was entirely funded by merit-based aid.|
|2/10/2014 9:11:36||65000||230000||295000||Hispanic Studies||2014||Medical expenses, Tuition, Children Daycare expenses, to keep up with cost of living||Work for a state university and sign up for the 10 year program without missing any payment, and then have my remaining debt forgiven. If that doesn't work, keep on paying until I either die or finish paying it all.||R1 Public, US||it's complicated||I am currently finishing my dissertation, on the job market, and caring for a special needs child and a 10 month old baby. I also teach full-time and sometimes feel that I am going insane with everything that I have on my plate! Hopefully, it will be over soon and I will get a more stable and less crazy daily live. I had a good interview at MLA this year and I will be going on a campus visit later this month. Cross your fingers for me!||None, my husband and I are each other's co-signers. When he was at school, I worked and co-signed his loans, then we paid it all off when we got a small family inheritance, and now he works and I am finishing school, so he's my co-signer. We both hope for a miracle to happen again this time and to have enough money to pay back how much we owe, but we haven't won the lottery yet...|
|2/10/2014 9:45:23||0||250000||250000||IT||2013||I had a daughter in law school and a son in undergraduate school. My initial plan was to simply earn a Masters, but I was enticed into the PhD program. After 10 years I finally finished it.||Uncertain at this time, but went for a second masters while I think about my options.||US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position, it's complicated||I do, but don't know where to begin....||None.|
|2/10/2014 13:42:57||0||14000||14000||Chemistry||2013||Scholarship cut for one year||US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position|
|2/10/2014 15:09:13||80000||50000||150000||Sociology||2013||Because I had to finance my own education.||Monthly payments, loan forgiveness, and creating additional streams of income.||R2, R1 Private, US||yes, secure position||None. My family is broke.|
|2/10/2014 15:22:40||0||9500||12500||History||In progress||I was enrolled in a tiny, poorly-regarded area studies PhD program with especially poor funding and university support. For years, I had to take out loans for living expenses, even when I got funding, but that wasn't too much. The funding disappeared, so I started working about thirty hours a week to pay for my endless coursework requirements. Eventually, I left the job because I was promised a year of teaching, but instead the department chair divided seven terms of teaching between seven people, leaving all of us with one semester funded, one semester unfunded. I could either get another job for the whole year and lose out on my one chance in this crappy, undergrad-hostile department for teaching experience, or I could take the semester and get the experience. The department head indicated that, if I did well, I was all but guaranteed a second semester of teaching. I got outstanding reviews -- I love what I do and care about teaching! -- but still didn't get rehired, of course. I stupidly thought that paying for the second semester would be worth it. That's where the bulk of the debt came from -- three classes that would have been critical to finishing my degree, including a "seminar" where I got no more than six words of feedback from the (amazingly now tenured!) professor over the course of the whole semester. Somehow, in the midst of my despair and growing depression, I decided to apply to other programs, abandoning a machine that clearly didn't give a rat's about training me as a teacher or researcher, but I was hedging my bets, taking courses in the original PhD, just in case I had to stay. I got out, but not without a good pile of debt for no decent reason.||It could be a lot worse, fortunately. I'm in a fairly healthy field and suspect I'll get a job, at which point I'll just have to pay them down over time. Sometimes I fantasize about the lottery, though, since I've now spent ten years trying to get a PhD, and even though I love my new institution, I'm still making just above subsistence. If I don't get an academic job, private or public sector it is, whoever will take me.||R1 Public, Ivy, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||Since I'm now at an ivy, I'm fortunate to be able to adjunct with impunity. I'm working at three places to pay down debt accumulated from my former partner and from the breakup of my marriage.||It was mostly increased by loved ones. That's part of the divorce issued mentioned above. My former partner was in so much debt, she eventually came to see loans as a sort of ATM. I was in such despair, I came to agree with her... "Wait, I can get a 'computer loan???'"|
|2/10/2014 15:55:51||5000||150000||155000||Sociology||2015||Needed to cover cost of living and bills.||Get a job that pays well.||R1 Private||yes, insecure, adjunct type position|
|2/10/2014 16:56:00||30000||25000||55000||Music||11||The undergraduate loans were for the normal food and board (more than tuition). The graduate loans were for living expenses during dissertation writing.||I'm actually employed in a "permanent" lecturer position so I'm making above 40K. I'm just going to make 120 minimum payments until I get the rest forgiven by the government. That is, if the program still exists.||R1 Public, US||yes, secure position, it's complicated||It's a jungle out there, folks. Those employed, do good, don't screw up. For those not employed, it's more than likely not your fault.||None.|
|2/10/2014 17:46:08||0||0||0||Engineering||2006||R1 Public||it's complicated||Secure well-paid position (>100k) in a government lab. It's semi-academic in that I publish and write grants, and it's possible (uncommon but heard of) to move into tenure track or even tenured positions from the lab staff.|
|2/10/2014 20:08:18||0||0||0||Spanish||2010||N/A||N/A||R1 Private, US||yes, secure position||I did my undergraduate work in Europe, with little cost that was taken on by my parents, and I had two different European grants for the first four years and then the additional two years of my PhD that were tax-free and paid a stipend year-round.|
|2/11/2014 9:07:27||20000||0||20000||History||2014||2003-2006||I am in the UK system, and my debt is to the Student Loans Company. If and when I begin earning over £16,910 (approx. $28,000), the company will automatically deduct repayments from my paycheck.||International (not Canadian)||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||I have not accrued any additional debt during my PhD, thanks to a full scholarship and the generous support of my (fully employed outside of academia) husband.|
|2/11/2014 10:38:08||42000||38000||150000 +||English||2011||I am poor. First-generation, no familial support, unrealistic expectations of earnings after graduating.||Do my 10-15 years at a crappy public school and then apply for debt forgiveness.||US||yes, secure position||None|
|2/11/2014 11:35:05||35000||25000||60000||physics||2014||I was unable to pay rent and basic living expenses and my family was unable to contribute to my education.||As soon as I graduate I can continue to live like a poor graduate student, but the increase in salary to the postdoc level should allow me to pay off all of my student loans within 5 years and then be able to finally live like an adult.||R1 Public||no||I'm on the job market this year for the first time and having miserable luck.||None|
|2/11/2014 13:15:16||0||20000||0||English||2010||Our annual stipends were roughly $15,000/year in a major east coast city.||I repaid my loan using my first year's salary.||R2, R1 Public, US||yes, secure position||some|
|2/11/2014 16:32:40||0||25000||10000||Cognitive Psychology||2010||I was "fully funded' for most of my time in graduate school, except for my last semester. I took out the loans to eat and pay rent my last year.||Work hard and live frugally. So far, it's working fairly well.||R1 Public, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||I'm employed on soft-money at the moment.||None. My family didn't really understand the situation.|
|2/12/2014 5:50:46||0||0||0||History||2013||International (not Canadian)||no||My entire undergrad costs of approx. $80000 CAD was paid for by my father. I worked and earned enough in scholarships to cover my tuition for a MA and PhD, and my husband and I used our savings to stay afloat and live abroad during our PhDs.|
|2/12/2014 6:32:06||15000||86000||85000||Education - Adult||2009||Private university, working for the government.||installments based on income. I need to make less money for that, but more money to make ends meet.||Other Ph.D. granting institution||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||Goose Egg!|
|2/12/2014 10:01:30||0||0||0||BA French, PhD English||1996||Never took loans; saved in advance, for 11 years, and then got fellowships. Despite this, lived on ramen and luck the whole time.||N/A||R1 Public, R1 Private, US||yes, secure position||I worry that we don't hear as much about the disastrous wider consequences for the culture of the PhD-job-scarcity/adjunctification/debt vortex. I am sympathetic to individuals in debt with or without jobs, but I am completely terrified by the broader, culture-wide consequences of (1)the loss of a generation (now two generations) of scholars; and (2) the narrow-minded anti-intellectualism that seems to drive US culture and decision-making; and (3) the late-capitalist pressures that have driven us into this vortex.||None: saved for 11 years.|
|2/12/2014 11:29:53||0||0||0||Poultry Science||2016||Lived at home and received scholarships to cover undergraduate tuition at in-state Public R1 in a major metropolitan area (high cost of living).|
Fully funded M.S. and PhD. at an out-of-state Public R1 in a smaller city (low cost of living).
|N / A||R1 Public||no||I will begin my job search in spring 2016. Currently, there are far fewer PhD candidates graduating in my field than are required to fill vacant positions in both academia and industry.||My parents allowed me to live at home without paying rent throughout undergrad.|
|2/12/2014 13:26:44||0||0||0||Musicology||2012||n/a: Had 4 years of guaranteed funding, and then taught/"hustled" for the years I was ABD. I taught 2 courses per semester, plus most summers. I worked in the library and as a research assistant at various times. I also maintained a private piano studio and picked up lots of accompanying gigs (I actually saved this $ and came out ahead by the end of grad school). I lived in a basement apartment for 7 years. I consider myself very very fortunate to have come out debt-free, but sometimes I wonder if the amount of teaching I've had to do to achieve that is making me a perennial 1-year VAP.||n/a||R1 Public||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||Even though I have no debt from my PhD and haven't been un- or under-employed (yet), I still have days when I contemplate where I'd be financially if I'd taken a different path. I'm also scared about pursuing non-academic employment after having been in higher ed for so long.||My undergraduate education was funded by my parents, and my husband supported me for several months so that I could write my dissertation for a semester without having to teach. Again, I've been very, very fortunate.|
|2/12/2014 14:42:08||0||0||3000||Spanish||2016||I only took out loans for undergrad, which were quickly paid off because of scholarships and employment afterwards. I've never needed a loan for grad school, but did enter with a few thousand dollars in credit card debt.||I am slowly paying off my credit card (doubling the minimum to get through it faster!), and I've been saving money and living very frugally, so if I come across money from grants or family I can apply it to the debt. I think I am going to be fine. That said, I haven't entered the job market yet, and I know that can be an expensive process in general.||R1 Private, US||no||Very little.|
|2/12/2014 14:59:45||0||48000||52000||Economics||2014||Only 4 years of 6 were fully funded, and even then they were a little short.||Get a job.||Canada||no||My parents (mostly) paid the interest on my loans.|
|2/12/2014 16:15:28||10000||20000||30000||Counseling||2014||Because I could not afford college on my own.||Monthly payments||US||no||What is the academy||All but one year of my undergrad was paid for via my parents and grants. I paid for my masters degree out of pocket and took loans for my PhD.|
|2/12/2014 19:52:55||0||0||0||Neuroscience||5.5||N/A||N/A||R2, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||I am currently a post-doctoral research fellow.||N/A|
|2/12/2014 20:15:11||0||27000||27000 so far||Italian||2015||In order to eat, pay for vet bills, pay for conferences, medical bills, or rent. Living on 9k a year is incredibly difficult. Then I moved to a major metropolis and can't save money, create an emergency fund, or afford rent despite a 17k stipend and never spending on anything other than food, rent, and the bare necessities. As a first generation immigrant (now citizen), I always thought that if I just worked hard, I could make a future. I'm at an elite, public R1, one of the best for my field, and the last time one of my departmental colleagues was able to get a TT was three years ago regardless of coming from a highly reputable institution.||R1 Public||no||None. They couldn't afford to help.|
|2/13/2014 14:13:27||15000||0||0||Environmental Science||2012||To pay for tuition and living expenses during undergrad.||Paid off all my loans in 2008.||R1 Public||no||My parents contributed $20,000 towards my undergraduate education. The remaining costs were covered by my loans, full-time work during the summers, and some part-time work during the school year.|
My graduate education was funded through a combination of teaching and research assistantships. I also worked a few odd jobs here and there, but mostly covered my living expenses through my stipend. I was pretty fortunate in that I was able to live quite cheaply (I happily shared a house with four other students for several years, didn't need a car, and didn't have kids. I was also pretty healthy and while I didn't receive financial help from my family, they didn't need anything extraordinary from me), so I was even able to pay off my undergraduate loans while I was in grad school.
|2/13/2014 14:57:58||0||25000||0||Architecture||2011||I took out the first student loan (18,000+-) for a year at Yale to finish my masters degree. Then took a second loan out during my last year as a recogized student while finishing my PhD at Princeton. While I received a full scholarship and grants, this last cost was a newly imposed fee to use the University facilities and healthcare (which I needed). So the second loan was really a loan for healthcare disguised as a student loan. In retrospect I needed that healthcare for that one extra year since I required surgery. I also had about $10-15,000 worth of debt on my credit card, some of that was medical costs.||Got tenure-track job in Australia, and have been paid very well and paid loans off within 6 years.||Ivy, US||yes, secure position||I am a little less bitter about the whole thing now that I have completed the dissertation a few years ago. When I was finished I thought the whole thing, 10 years of angst, was a waste of time. In the meantime I have been tenured, and now preparing to go on my first sabbatical, and have paid off my student loans and am totally debt-free. While I am very thankful for the fact that I have paid off my loans and have tenure at a major University in Australia (with about $140,000 in a superannuation/401 K account), I do not own anything. I am still renting an apartment and do not own a car, and probably will not be able to afford to buy an apartment for another couple of years. So while some of my friends who just went for a Bachelors, and chose other life paths, are on their second home with multiple cars because they married well and had a family, etc., part of me still feels like a 20 year old (I am now 42) with only the 'hope' of buying a place to live (fact: the median cost of a home/ apartment in Melbourne is over $500,000) As time goes on after the completion of the dissertation, I am feeling more relaxed and actually enjoying the research aspect of my job. I can actually go back (after 3 years) and revisit the dissertation for a book, but immediately after I was disgusted with it and could only deal with parts of it to send out as articles. But attitudes do change. I should also mention that I am single and have no children.||My parents funded my undergraduate degree, so I thankfully had no debt there. They were also very helpful in giving me gifts of money while I finished Masters and PhD degrees.|
|2/13/2014 16:40:32||17000||3000||20000||English||2011||In undergrad, I took out loans to be able to go to a private university. In graduate school, I took out loans to be able to quit my second job at an insurance company so that I could finish my dissertation. $3000 is about how much I made working at the insurance company part-time, to supplement the $10,000 graduate stipend I received.||Slowly--month by month||R1 Public, R1 Private||yes, secure position||None of my debt was paid for by my parents or family members, but my parents paid for undergrad tuition that wasn't covered by financial aid package (which, of course, includes loans), and thus significantly reduced my debt.|
|2/14/2014 1:26:26||0||0||0||History||2013||I did not have to because I taught full time for one year after my funding ended. Saving from that year allowed me to pay to file the following year. My partner and I took turns supporting each other financially while we finished our dissertations.||R1 Public, US||yes, secure position||delayed accepting TT post for 1 year, will start in fall 2014||No debt, but only because my partner and I took turns supporting each other.|
|2/14/2014 9:37:45||15550||27400||19000||Art History||2006||I had a "full scholarship" for my undergraduate degree so tuition and room and board were covered but I was responsible for (hefty) fees, health insurance, books, etc. In graduate school, I had "full funding" but the stipend for living expenses was not enough to cover my rent, commuting costs, food, utilities, etc.||I have been attempting to pay off $500 a month, although now that I have a child, I may not be able to keep up with that schedule.||R1 Private, Ivy||it's complicated||I am a curator (full-time) at a private museum and adjunct professor (part-time, 1-2 courses a year) at a public university. (Because I am protected by a union, I am "guaranteed" at least one course a year.)||My parents very generously sent me about 200 a month while I was in college, for food, transportation, art supplies, books, and clothes/fun.|
|2/14/2014 19:55:39||0||0||0||Statistics PhD||2013||Had no need for loans-- undergrad was financed through a full academic scholarship + other stackable achievement scholarships, I also worked 20-30 hrs/wk to build up a significant savings fund. |
I made it through in grad school on a fully funded TA-ship, and used my savings to supplement my stipend.
|R1 Public||no||I work in the private sector, which was my plan all along. I earn significantly more money than I would if I had stayed in academia.||None. I have been completely financially independent since 18.|
|2/15/2014 15:11:00||0||13000||13000||History||2013||Cover extra costs of rent while not working so I could complete my thesis and because I had to replace my used car with another used car||Steady repayments over the minimum, it should take no more than 5 years - far less if I get a full-time position.||R1 Public, R1 Private||yes, insecure, adjunct type position||My undergraduate was funded entirely by my parents, but my graduate years (all eight years) was paid for by my scholarships, fellowships, TA-ships, and other income like summer jobs. My department has employed me for seven years as a TA and an adjunct instructor.|
|2/16/2014 14:16:35||0||140000||140000||Psychology||2014||Tuition,living costs, two dependents. Needs not met by stipends.||???? hahaha don't know!||US||it's complicated||Hired as full time lecturer for one semeseter; must reapply for coming year.||zilch|
|2/16/2014 17:09:32||0||28000||37000||Geography||2015||field work went long||none||R1 Public, US||it's complicated||none.|
|2/17/2014 15:25:40||10000||0||0||Computer Science||2009 (PhD)||To relieve any pressure on my parents.||Luckily repayed. In CS we're rather lucky.||R1 Private, US, Canada||yes, secure position|
|2/17/2014 21:58:54||25000||160000||185000||History||in progress (2nd yr PhD)||I was a mom at 16 who went to college at 20 and once the loans started it's not like I felt I could ever really afford to stop. I tried to work that entry level job post BA and sunk fast. Also, it often took me longer to finish programs because of my family situation, but also I just discovered last summer this was exacerbated by dyslexia, which was quite an enlightening discovery that cost me an extra year in graduate school trying to pass a language exam.||Pray that student loans are restructured, get on the income contingent plan and work my 10 years in non-profit post graduation so that I can qualify for the loan forgiveness program. All of my loans are with the federal government so this helps.||R1 Public, US||it's complicated||Still working on the PhD.||None.|
|2/18/2014 9:16:11||80000||80000||160000||Communication||2013||No other way to effectively pay for school. My parents contributed some and I worked part time jobs as an undergraduate. As a graduate student I was married and had children so I needed the extra cash to cover our expenses.||Income based repayment.||R1 Public||yes, secure position||My parents co-signed loans but that is about it.|
|2/18/2014 9:48:46||12000||45000||43000||Higher Education PhD||2014||Private university tuition/fees and one-year living expenses||Regular monthly payments of about $300 for the 10 year life. I could try the public college route for forgiveness, but it is too small of an amount to bother being tied to one sector that long.||R1 Private, US||yes, secure position||I am an administrator rather than faculty||0|
|2/18/2014 12:31:11||0||25000||13000||Environmental Engineering||2013||Supplementing a TA salary and paying fees (tuition and most fees were waived).||I graduated in August 2013, and I'm entering repayment this month. I am living on half my salary in order to pay off these debts by July 2014.||R1 Public, US||yes, insecure, adjunct type position, it's complicated||I am a postdoctoral research associate at a national laboratory. Thank goodness they pay me well or I wouldn't be able to get rid of this debt.||None. My parents and family are supporting my sister and her three children and could not afford to help me.|
|2/18/2014 13:04:48||30000||80000||110000||sociology||2016||I have three children, one under 5 years old and a blue collar partner, as well as an underwater mortgage on a house that was purchased in 2005 before the housing bubble burst and before I left my unstable job to attend undergrad and graduate school.||hopefully I will qualify for pay as you earn program for my federal loans||R1 Public||I am currently a graduate student in my fourth year.||0|
|2/19/2014 3:45:08||0||46000||46000||Musicology||2013||I was funded for five years through the department. With two small children and dealing with major illness and loss in my family it took me an additional two years to finish; years in which--even with some teaching work--I had to take loans to get by.||Hope I can find some stable employment so I can make the payments.||R1 Public||no||My family paid for my undergraduate education, but the graduate debt is all mine. I have received occasional emergency funds from parents and grandparents.|