As an educator, one of our many qualities is that we are lifelong learners. Sometimes we can obtain our education through accessible sources, such as district-sponsored professional development opportunities, reading articles or books, or simply learning from other educators. However, this is not always enough if you are interested in furthering your career as an educator.
With the cost of living skyrocketing, it can be daunting to face the reality of paying for furthering your education. However, many options make paying for education possible while also taking care of other financial responsibilities.
Types of Student Loans
Student loans are a great option for anyone thinking about going back to school to further their education and career. This was the method I chose while obtaining my undergraduate degree in biology and a postgraduate degree in education. Although repayments can be challenging at times, it is the simplest method to get the funds necessary to meet your educational goals.
There are several types of loans:
- Federal subsidized
- Federal unsubsidized
Federal loans are the best option as there are reimbursement programs geared toward educators who have been in the profession for several years. Federal loans have two options, subsidized and unsubsidized, and there are a few key differences between these two loan types. Subsidized loans are available to graduate students who can show financial need, and The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on the loan while in school.
Unsubsidized loans are also offered to graduate students, but you are responsible for paying the interest, even while in school. For both loan types, you must seek a degree to receive a loan offer. You can see which loan type is available to you once you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Before sitting down to complete the form, be prepared. You will need information from the previous year’s tax filing to complete the form, however, the whole process only takes about twenty minutes if you have all of your documents ready. Once the form has been submitted, you will receive a notification from the Office of U.S. Department of Education confirming that your form has been processed and the information has been sent to your selected schools.
Accepting and Repaying Student Loans
Accepting the loan offer from Concordia University Irvine is a straightforward process. The staff are always available to answer questions and provide support when calculating the amount needed to borrow. The financial aid offer will be well over the amount needed to cover your educational expenses in many cases.
It is advised that you only borrow the minimum amount needed to cover the tuition costs as the amount to be repaid can quickly add up. Concordia can help you identify the funds required and will only accept the amount you request. While enrolled in classes, you are not required to repay your loan; however, it is a great idea to consider repaying the loan as soon as possible.
Once you have graduated, you are given a six-month grace period to select a repayment plan that works for you before you are required to make payments. Before accepting the loan, it is a good idea to have a plan for repayment after your education is completed. This foresight will allow you to budget accordingly and not be surprised when the first payment is due.
FSA has a loan simulator where you can calculate your potential monthly payment based on your chosen repayment plan. This is a great tool when deciding which repayment plan is best for your budget and understanding how each repayment plan works.
Creating a Monthly Budget
Before enrolling in the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential (PASC) from Concordia University Irvine, my husband and I thought long and hard about our responsibility of repaying the student loans I was going to accumulate. He and I just finished paying off all of our debts and decided we would make every effort to live debt-free. However, the cost of tuition was not feasible for us to plan for a pay-as-you-go option, and we agreed that a student loan was the best option for us.
He and I already had a monthly budget spreadsheet that included how much money we were bringing in and our monthly obligations, such as subscriptions, cell phones, and daycare costs. We agreed that we had enough money coming in to afford to pay some of the loans while I was in school.
After submitting my FAFSA application, I was awarded an unsubsidized loan to cover the cost of tuition, which meant I would be responsible for interest accrued during my time enrolled in school. However, we were able to take advantage of the freeze in student loan interest and repayments due to the pandemic, allowing 100% of our payments to go towards the principal.
Keeping this in mind, we decided to pay $300 towards my master’s program each month, understanding that this number would go up once I graduated. In addition, based on the need for administrators in my district, I was confident that I would obtain an assistant principal position upon my graduation from Concordia University Irvine. This alone would give me a $45,000 pay increase per year, which would absolutely help to repay my student loans.
My husband and I agreed that we would increase the monthly payments to $1,000 per month once I was earning more income from my degree. Based on this repayment plan, my student loans would be paid within a year and a half of my completion of PASC, a manageable amount of time considering the increase in pay and the growth I have made as an educator through the PASC program.