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Should I Go to Graduate School?

Written by Steve Rhode


Dear Steve,

I am currently about 95K in debt which consists of both federal and private loans. This was accumulated when I got my bachelors degree in criminal justice. I am currently in forbearance with my federal loans, however my private loans are delinquent.

I’ve pretty much exhausted every possible thing with the private loans to delay payment and now they are on the edge of defaulting but that may bot happen because my lender (PNC) has in place a loan re-modification program. The program would cut my payments in half and would remove all negative credit reporting.

In order to get into this program I had to apply submit paystubs along with a filled out application stating my expenses and my co-signer had to do this as well.

Now, the only reason why I’m doing this is because after I got my bachelors the plan was to go to graduate school but I could not at the time for unforeseen circumstances. Also during that time I could not find employment that would have allowed me to make payments on my student loans. And now I’m stuck here, possibly not being able to go to graduate school altogether if my loans default.

Should I bother going to graduate school if I’m able to not have my loans default? I know to some that might sound crazy. The field I have chosen (environmental engineering) is supposed to grow more than any other field in the next five years and future employment opportunities look promising although I know nothing is guaranteed.



Dear Patrick,

You nailed it right on the head with “nothing is guaranteed.”

This choice is nothing more than a gamble that life will let you graduate and the economy does not crash if one of the political candidates running gets into office.

What you have here is a future best guess based on an uncertain life that is beyond your control. Will you get sick, hit by a car, or worse? Odds say you won’t but betting that stuff does not happen is a risk or gamble.

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If this was something you paid for as you went then the answer would be to take the risk and go for it. But if you are dragging a co-signer along with you here then the actions you take and decisions you make, drag them down with you if you don’t make it.

It’s not the decision for the education that is tough, I’m all for furthering education, but the anchor chain of debt that you will create by going using loans.

The options for dealing with this private student loan debt are limited. So if I could offer one option it would be to NOT use any more private student loan debt. If you are going to go make sure it is a combination of pay as you go and only federal student loan debt.

Private loans are a suckers play and offer little to no options in case life happens. Federal student loans give you options and income driven plans that can help in case you hit a speed bump in life.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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