The Federal Government Says Good Luck with Your Grad Degree

As some of you may know, I’ll be starting law school in just a few weeks. I’m pretty excited about it, although it will mean a lot of changes in my life (Homework! Moving across the country! Doubling my rent!). But I know it will be an important step for me, both as a person and for my career. Apparently, it’s also a necessary one if I want to earn more than “men with some college but no degree” (on average). According to Jos’ post on Feministing and the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown, women need a PhD to earn as much as men with a BA. Or, in my case, a professional degree. Unfortunately, the federal government just made it harder to do that. As Idealist helpfully summarizes, the debt ceiling deal made some serious cuts to student loans. Although Pell Grants were saved, students taking out loans for graduate or professional education will end up paying significantly more. How? Interest payments that were subsidized while you were in school (and for most people, not earning much money) will be shouldered by the student. And incentives for on-time payments after graduation, such as interest rate deductions, will be eliminated. While this may not sound like a big deal, both of these affect interest payments, which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars over time. Believe me, I just filled out the paperwork. It’s true that some PhD programs are paid. And many of those who earn professional degrees ending up doing pretty well for themselves. But there are a lot of graduates who don’t do as well and who do end up paying off their loans over multiple decades. For those doing public interest work, there are debt forgiveness programs from the government (for now...) and certain schools. But they don’t always go far enough. As the Georgetown study shows, higher education can help women decrease the gender gap in the workforce. Unfortunately, fewer women may be able able to afford this education due to the government's changes to student loans. How do you feel about students shouldering $4.6 billion of the deficit reduction? How will this affect your future grad school plans? Or if you already have an advanced degree, how might this policy have affected your decision to go to graduate school?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,