Grad School Is a Debt Machine

Search form

Grad School Is a Debt Machine

Grad School Is a Debt Machine
Thu, 3/27/2014 - by Hamilton Nolan
This article originally appeared on Gawker

America's student debt burden has been on the rise for years, along with America's class of incredibly well-educated retail workers. A new report reveals who's driving the train to debt hell: grad students. Don't do it!

Do you really need to go to grad school? For the vast majority of those of you considering going to grad school, the answer is "probably not." So consider this a bit of data to encourage you to skip it. Take a year off. Travel the world. Hitchhike. Join the Peace Corps. Be a bartender. Huddle in a remote cabin and write your novel. Learn the trombone.

All of these are good, affordable activities to pursue as you consider the findings of a New America Foundation report, which shows that the increase in the debt load of graduate students in the past decade makes the student debt load for undergrads look paltry by comparison. From the Wall Street Journal:

The typical debt load of borrowers leaving school with a master's, medical, law or doctoral degree jumped an inflation-adjusted 43% between 2004 and 2012, according to a new report by the New America Foundation, a left-leaning Washington think tank. That translated into a median debt load—the point at which half of borrowers owed more and half owed less—of $57,600 in 2012.

The increases were sharper for those pursuing advanced degrees in the social sciences and humanities, versus professional degrees such as M.B.A.s or medical degrees that tend to yield greater long-term returns. The typical debt load of those earning a master's in education showed some of the largest increases, rising 66% to $50,879. It climbed 54% to $58,539 for those earning a master of arts.

Important to note here that the the cost of grad school degrees that will not earn you any money have increased more than the cost of grad school degrees that—while expensive—will eventually earn you money. At this rate, the cost of graduate degrees that exist primarily to give driftless, artistic-minded people in their late 20s something to do for a couple of years while they figure shit out will eventually catch up to the cost of graduate degrees that exist primarily to give driftless, money-minded people in their late 20s something to do for a coupe of years while they figure shit out.

If you really want to shudder, take a look at the six figure debt loads carried by grad students in the 90th percentile of debt. There's a one in ten chance that could be you. Every motherfucker in the world thinks they have a shot at hitting the lottery, which has odds of one in 259 million, but the best-educated students in America do not believe that they are signing up for several decades worth of debt slavery when they enroll in grad school, even though the odds of that are better than the odds of your art history degree landing you that curator gig at the Met.

The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math. (This should not be interpreted as advice to go to business school.)

Article Tabs

Davi Kopenawa, the leader of the Yanomami people in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, who is internationally renowned for his struggle against encroachment on indigenous land by landowners and illegal mi

Cooperative Home Care Associates has 2,300 workers who enjoy good wages, regular hours and family health insurance.

In the past three years, 22 U.S. companies have relocated through mergers with or purchases of a foreign company, enabling them to escape American corporate tax laws. Learn how they're getting away with it.

11% of business leaders in Britain think that modern slavery is taking place somewhere within their company’s production of goods. Will the Modern Slavery Bill make a dent?

The Blair Mountain Battlefield was the scene of a 5-day clash in September 1921 between more than 5,000 West Virginia coal miners and 3,000 men backed by coal companies – the largest armed labor conflict in US history.

If we want a healthy society that follows its laws and applies them equally to everyone, we must demand a full investigation and criminal prosecutions for everyone involved in the mortgage backed securities fiasco.

Posted 4 days 21 hours ago

The vote on Independence is a moment of unprecedented possibility for Scotland to peacefully reject the U.K.'s failed neoliberal agenda.

Posted 4 days 2 hours ago

FarmDrop and Open Food Network stress the desire to create positive, systemic social change that disrupts the existing dominance of supermarket provision of food.

Posted 4 days 1 hour ago

On Sept. 7, people will host screenings of “Disruption" ahead of the People's Climate March - in living rooms and libraries, on campuses and in community centers, all across the country.

Posted 4 days 2 hours ago

Borrowers with federal student loans appear to be buckling under the weight of their debt, as more than half of Direct Loans – the most common type of federal student loan – aren't being repaid on time or as expected.

Posted 6 days 4 hours ago

Farmers protest after President Obama signs the Monsanto Protection Act into law.

Chronicle of a Mexico Without a President

In Mexico, December 1, 2012, will be remembered as the day that an imposition was legitimized.

In this first of a three-part series, we offer a personal inventory of 15M’s prototypes by talking about processes and innovative actions, from method micro-utopia to urban, communications, feminine and collective culture micro-utopias.

Get Involved! It's the Hour for People Power in America

The social movements leading the push for immigration reform and gun regulations must ratchet up pressure after these latest battles are won to win the battles for climate change and anti-poverty legislation.

World food control has nearly been achieved by reducing plant diversity through GMO seeds made by transnational corporations. If the Trans-Pacific Partnership passes, our food, health, environment and financial system will belong fully to the corporations.

Sign Up