Reasonable debt load for a terminal masters program?

Discussion in 'Mental Health and Social Welfare' started by futureapppsy2, 05.12.14.

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  1. futureapppsy2

    futureapppsy2 Postdoctoral fellow Gold Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    I've gotten this question from my students from time to time, and I never know what to say, beyond the obvious "less debt is better." So, what do you think is a reasonable amount of debt for a terminal masters degree in counseling or social work? What should be the absolute high end? 40k? 50k? Lower? Higher?
     
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  3. wesleysmith

    wesleysmith LLMSW 2+ Year Member

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    With the difference between instate, out of state, private, and public, that's kind of a loaded question.From all the programs I looked into (in state, public) 30-40,000 seems reasonable...ish.

    EDIT: An example of a highly ranked university:
    - Instate: $40,000.00
    - Out of State: $72,000.00
     
  4. Goobernut

    Goobernut LMSW 2+ Year Member

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    You can get a decent masters from several state universities for under $30,000 instate tuition. This will obviously be more in some states, and it's less at my current university. This is not figuring room and board.

    I always give people the "don't take on more school debt than you expect to make in a year" speech -- despite how much their desired program is. Remind them to consider their undergrad debt too.

    I would personally say that $50,000 is pushing the upper limit. I've heard Washington State (?) and one of the Denver universities are great programs, but are in-between $80,000 and $90,000. Forgive me if I'm off a little on my numbers/names, it's been a year since I was searching. In my opinion that was too much to ask for a career that only starts at $40,000 (if that).
     
    Last edited: 05.12.14
  5. socwrkr

    socwrkr 2+ Year Member

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    I tell people not to exceed 45 or 50k if you're going to use student loans. Beyond this, and the repayment can be quite high. I say this because social worker salaries out of grad school typically start around 40 or 45k; maybe low 60's if working in corrections. No need to go for degrees from expensive, big-named universities, unless you're rich. But then, I wonder how many rich people go for MSW's? I think a class in student loan debt, the social work job market, and financial management should be required by the CSWE for all social work programs in order to be accredited; this would fall under advocacy. I've seen too many grads overestimating their prospects in the job market and as a result taking on more debt than can be justified by their income.
     
  6. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist SDN Moderator 5+ Year Member

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    I would agree with this. I might be remembering it incorrectly, but I think the typical advice for student loans in general is to try not to exceed your expected early career initial annual salary.
     
  7. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-VA 7+ Year Member

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    not more than you can reasonably be expected to earn in your first few years. For a practice oriented masters, probably 40k tops. Preferably 15-20K
     
  8. R. Matey

    R. Matey

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    Western Washington University in Bellingham. Yes, it is a good program.
     

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