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What would you do in this case?

Discussion in 'Audiology [ Au.D ]' started by AuDx, Jan 18, 2017.

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  1. AuDx


    Jan 18, 2017
    I'm torn. I'm having the hardest time deciding whether or not to start the AuD program. I have 2 paths. Please bear in mind I'm old, 40. I love school, always taking a continuing ed class here and there, so not a problem there, and I'm very "service oriented". I caught the Audiology bug and actually would be quite happy doing it for the rest of my life. I have 2 paths, I don't know which to go, please help.

    Path 1) Graduate in 4 years with an AuD, prestigious degree whether or not some think they're just Techs.
    Possibly salary about 75k and above.
    Low stress since it's one on one.
    Will incur about $100k in student loan debt.
    Have on hand about 60k in a 401k I could use for home down payment + 30k in pension + 20k saved.

    Path2) Or Stay where I'm at. Hate my current job. Extremely stressful and overworked.
    Though I have a Professional degree, patrons treat you like crap.
    Salary Max at 70k with no potential growth.
    60k in 401k + 30k pension+ 20k saved.
    Zero debt.

    It's like Path 1 I'll be much happier, greater accomplishment personally and academically but Huge risk financially but still has potential for growth. Path 2 brings better financial security, but I will be miserable for the rest of my life.

    Am I crazy to want to continue school?
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  3. jblil

    jblil 5+ Year Member

    Dec 1, 2010
    East Coast
    No, you are not crazy to want to go back to school. I was older than you when I did the same thing. But I think you should consider a few things carefully before making the jump:
    - Have you shadowed an AuD, for more than 1-2 days? Every job has its boring or stressful sides, and you need to see that, too;
    - "Salary 75K and above" - what is the starting salary, and what is the growth curve? Don't rely uniquely on BLS stats, they are often out-of-date. Check,, hospitals websites, etc. You need several sources to get a reliable picture.
    - You need to analyze the payback/return on investment for 4 years of your life + tuition/COL money. Make a budget for your post-graduation life, taking into account loan payments as they will be substantial in your case. Can you live with that budget?
    - I don't think you can tap into your 401k and pension fund, to pay for school. So if you do decide to go back, apply to the least expensive, but accredited, program. Medicine and law, and to a much lesser degree engineering, are the only fields where school pedigree is important. Check your state's incentives for getting a degree in a medical field and then working in a underserved area or a non-profit entity (many hospitals are non-profit). My state (NC) has a relatively generous "forgivable loan" program.

    You shouldn't be miserable for the rest of your life, esp since you're only 40. But the alternate path may be something else than an AuD degree.
  4. AuDx


    Jan 18, 2017
    Thanks for the reply jblil. I'm happy to hear you went back to school in your 40s and did it. Lots of great info there you provided.

    - Yes I did shadow an AuD and am very familiar with the full scope of practice. I can see myself doing that for the next 25 years with no problem.

    - I checked out at the salary, they seem to be all around 64 to 82k more or less.

    - ROI is the biggest challenge. Not easy to figure out since one can not guaranty said income upon graduation. It's a calculated risk worth exploring.
    $100k in loan: 10 yr repayment plan at $1200 mthly equals 147k.

    - Yes you are right. I'd have to come up with ways to borrow less or lower my student loan using affordable program, stipend, grants etc... Use forgivable loans repayment program like IBR, PSLF etc if they're still available.

    - Yes I can use 401k to pay for my schooling, but can not use the pension. So that's an avenue I'm considering to get rid of a big chunk of the loan. 47k in interest really sucks. Just gotta figure out a way to save that money back.
  5. jamesdurak


    Jan 18, 2017
    Where are you getting your 100k debt figure from? Is that because you are automatically looking at specific schools? I am mid-30's and going back to school. And I agree you are not crazy for wanting a big change and to live a happy life.

    Here are some suggestions:

    If you're serious about audiology, take the time to knock your GRE out of the park. Get yourself in the running for some scholarships or other funding to lower your overall bill. And apply for whatever you can find from national organizations. Ask departments about GA positions or research assistant positions with stipends.

    Do you have schools in your state that would offer in-state tuition? If you live in a western state, UW's audiology program will automatically give you in state tuition. Check out similar situations for schools you are interested in.

    As an example for how to piece together funding:
    Washington University St Louis has a great program and they have a partnership with the US department of education where you can get a pediatric specialty, take a couple extra courses, and get 50k in funding from department of education split between your 2nd and 3rd years in exchange for your promise to see pediatric patients 51% of your time for several years. (Their application deadline is middle of February if you are thinking of trying to make this change for this year). Plus the school also gives scholarships to all of their incoming students. If you did that, then with your existing savings you could get by with a loan of maybe only 30-40k or so and save your 401k for other uses.

    I think there are ways to make it happen without jeapordizing your finances.
    Faefly likes this.
  6. AuDx


    Jan 18, 2017
    Thanks Jamesdurak, that's some solid ideas you pointed out there. This really gives me some great ideas on the different ways I can go. Going to the school closest to me will run me in the 100k, but will look to see what funding or partnership they may have available to keep cost down. I'm guessing going out of town to other schools with lower tuition might end up costing me the same when factoring cost of living.

    National organization - Is it something I get on my own, separate from the school, or does the school have to have a partnership with them?
  7. foregolf

    foregolf 2+ Year Member

    Sep 29, 2015
    Definitely look into all schools and what funding opportunities are available. The school rank will mean little to nothing when graduating. There are certain schools that will give you money if you decide to commit to pediatric patients for X amount of years after graduation. I'm in an AuD program right now and have my tuition paid for on top of a monthly stipend. Like another user posted if you live in the west coast check out WICHE they have an agreement between western states that will allow you to claim resident tuition rates. There are cheaper alternatives out there but it does take some time to do the investigating and find them. Best of luck!
    TheEarDoc likes this.
  8. AuDx


    Jan 18, 2017
    Thank you so much for the info, I will check that out and look into it.
  9. deezhairy


    Jun 5, 2017
    Do NOT go $100k in debt to become an audiologist. That simply makes no sense.
  10. Faefly


    Jun 21, 2016
    4 years from now, you are either 44 and miserable at your job
    Or Audiologist which honestly I don't know what that even means, but I know you'd be 44 and content with your degree and new work.
    So please
    Let me say it again, please don't let age stands in the way between you and your dreams.

    Age can be just a number for some people or it can be an obstacle for others, and for the rest, it is just an excuse!

    Excuse, not to love, live, and pursue dreams!

    And you know what, just studying alone, will make you feel younger! and you'll be surprised how many older students are there and in most cases, they excel because now they know what they want!

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