Regardless if you’ve been out of college for years or one semester, making the decision to further your education is a big step, especially financially. By now you’ve started looking at the school’s curriculum and calculating up the cost of tuition plus books and other materials. That number staring back at you on the calculator can be daunting, but don’t let that deter you. Here are tips to help you financially plan for graduate school:
- Take your time looking for the right school for you. You may or may not have already done this, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention it. We all know that grad school is costly, but remember that cheaper doesn’t always mean better, so comparing costs will be crucial.
- Assess your current loans. Before you start to send off your applications, get a better understanding of what your financial situation might look like as a graduate student and the loans you currently have, if you have any. It might seem a bit overwhelming to lay it all out, but our Member Advisors can always help. With their help, you can understand what you’re working with and how to move forward financially. This is crucial especially when it comes to the next step.
- Found the school – time to start budgeting. It may sound simple, and it can be, this step is also crucial. Create a budget that keeps you aware of how much you’re spending versus saving.
- Remember that stuff happens. Create a three-to-six-month emergency fund to cover the unexpected. Whether facing a large medical bill, an accident, or something else, having a buffer will help keep you afloat without resorting to more expensive options, such as paying with your credit card.
- Hands off the retirement fund. You may be eager to pull from your retirement fund once you have laid out your financial lifestyle for grad school. Whether you want to pull out of your 401 (k) for the education itself or to supplement for your living expenses, you must resist. Instead, check out scholarships, find out if the school you decided on offers anything or stick to working part-time or full-time.
We know that graduate school is costly, and even getting back into the mindset can seem like a struggle. With enough preparation and an in-depth conversation with one of our Member Advisors, you can walk into your first day with confidence. We offer student loan options and can help you budget based on your lifestyle. Stop by our Montebello or Cerritos branch today, or give us a call at 323-722-3400.