Managing money as a graduate student

Graduate school is expensive.

Even attending a public university and paying in-state tuition, graduate school costs 7k/year for tuition, plus tuition for summer clinic placements and internships, health insurance, food, car insurance, gas, books, and rent — all of these expenses quickly add up.

When the clinic announced that we had to pay $100 for CPR certification and background checks, a lot of us were thrown. The unbudgeted small expenses tend to be worse than the budgeted large expenses, possibly because we suddenly realize that we cannot eat out for the rest of the semester in order to accommodate the new expense into our already thin budgets.

My tips for minimizing graduate school debt:

1. Apply for scholarships and assistantships at your home university. Most departments have some funding available for students, whether through endowments or through the graduate school’s assistantship funds. Ask in your department about applying for these. If your speech pathology program doesn’t have enough for everyone, look in other departments. Graduate assistantships might be available in your university’s writing center, housing department, or tutoring services. Your strengths as a SLP student will be put to good use in all of these departments.

2. Buy used clothes. Thrift stores are great, and most have days when clothes are half off. This is where you want to buy your clothes for clinical placements. I bought seven cardigans, two dresses, a pair of boots, two pairs of dress pants, and four skirts for twenty five dollars at my local thrift store. Need more reasons to shop at thrift stores? They prevent waste and so help the environment. They support local charities. It’s fun to look through the racks to see what you can find, and you might end up finding a donated textbook for a dollar instead of 150 dollars…

3. Buy used textbooks. $150 is too much to spend on a single book. Your professors will specify a certain edition. It is almost always fine to buy a prior edition (Amazon is a great resource). Otherwise, there is usually a copy in the library. Don’t check it out and hog it all semester, but you can use it for reference if your older edition seems to lack updated information.

4. Drink in. It’s too expensive to buy all of your alcohol at the bar.

5. Cook. Eating out is expensive, too. Don’t do it every day. I usually put some meat, vegetables, and rice into my slow cooker on Sunday and eat that most of the week.

6. Live with a friend. Half the bills, twice the fun.

7. Apply for external funding. Scholarships available for SLP students include:

On a happier note, I was about to apply for another part-time job until I did the math. I might have ten hours a week to give to another job, and at eight dollars an hour, that’s eighty dollars a week. After I graduate, I’ll make three times that much in a day working at a school. Don’t give up — you will be making money soon!



2 thoughts on “Managing money as a graduate student

  1. runninggraduate says:

    Great tips! I have been worrying a bit about finances since I will be starting graduate school in the fall. It seems like you have it all pat down!

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