It’s been a long road. But this week feels awesome. My academic advisor gave me the thumbs-up this morning, after reviewing my practicum portfolio. That’s a green light for graduation.
Of course, it is possible to earn a graduate degree or bachelor’s degree in business in business in less than 5 years. Some executive master’s take as little as 12 months. I elected to take my time, for several reasons.
We’re a single income military family. My wife is a Navy meteorologist, and I do not work. Let me put that another way, I do not get paid for working to run the house and raise 3 children while my wife works and occasionally deploys. It was cost-effective to spread the payments out rather than take on student loans.
Plus, I don’t think I could have taken on a heavier work-load. Doing as little as 1 class per semester at times was stressful, for the entire family. My major consisted of diverse subjects. From the practical insurance and retirement planning to the abstract tax planning, and sometimes bizarre family systems. Some classes were more intense than others, but there was no way to predict which ones would be more time-consuming.
My decision to study was not only to prepare me for a professional career after our children became more independent, and no longer needed a parent to greet them after school. I needed to do this for my own sanity. I needed to achieve something more for myself after sacrificing my career for the sake of my wife’s military career. I decided that there was no reason for me to stop moving forward. Alternatively, if I had done nothing, I would have experienced growing feelings of inadequacy, and resentment.
I will graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. But it is just one cog in a bigger, innovative wheel called the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GP-IDEA). A consortium of 11 universities that share a distance education course-load. Students can take necessary classes online from any GP-IDEA school to meet the requirements of their degree.
This program is particularly attractive to people looking to graduate from a major school, but whose personal circumstances prevent them from attending traditional classroom courses. Military personnel and spouses are well represented in the GP-IDEA, which comprises Texas Tech, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State, and other prominent Universities.
I would like to share the cost of my degree so that you can use it as a point of reference, in case you are considering postgraduate education.
Tuition Cost: $16,700
Cost per credit hour: $398 (42 credits required to graduate)
PLUS Materials: $1,500
LESS: $1,000 (National Military Family Association scholarship)
LESS: $3,440 (Lifetime Learning Tax Credit – 20% of $17,200))
Net Cost: $13,760
Annual Net Cost: $2,752
The final annual net cost of $2,752 has been manageable for our family budget. We have been able to absorb this without putting it on a credit card for more than a couple of months at a time. Your experience may vary significantly from this, depending on school and course-load.
What do you think? Is graduate school worth it? Do you have any experiences to share on the cost and benefit of your graduate experience? Are you considering graduate studies?