Sunday, April 26, 2009

Debt Free in DC...

In my last post, I wrote this illustrious blog about attending Columbia and achieving my dreams. Indeed, I visited the school, fell in love with the program, the city and the people, etc. I was all set to go, until I received an e-mail from the University of Maryland- College Park, offering me a full ride.

While everyone else was happy for me, and saying “Girl, You got good problems,” I was emotional wreck. Columbia is my dream school, but it also comes with a 70K price tag on top of my undergraduate loans which, together, would average out at about 100k and that is not including interest.

Is the program worth 70K? Yep. The School administers the freakin’ Pulitzer Prize. The Alumni network is a beast. The actual program is standard, up to date and on point. NYC is their laboratory, and some of the best and brightest in the field walk through their doors regularly. (sigh)

However, there are some pretty heavy negatives simply because of the price tag.
1) Journalist in general start out making 30-40k, maybe 45k with a masters and experience. The median salary for a person with 10-15 years of experience is around 50 k. Thus, I will have that loan for the rest of my life.
2) Journalism is a field where you don’t “need” a masters degree to get into the field, it’s all about your talent and network. There is a large chance that I could go to Columbia and end up in a field other than journalism, simply because I have to pay back this huge debt.

Furthermore, the University of Maryland isn’t bad.
1) Free ride means, I don’t have to worry about how I am going to eat, pay rent, etc.
2) I don’t have to work which leaves time for internships, networking and study time.
3) When I graduate, I can take a low paying job to get experience with out worrying about the debt.
4) My boss is friends with the President of the University. Only great things can come of it. Lol
5) I am really talented so I can thrive at any school, especially Maryland because I am debt free.
6) To be in DC, during the Obama administration!!!! Super, Super, Super cool. lol

This week I had to make a big girl decision. Choosing between what I need vs want. For a week straight, I did everything I could to try to leverage Maryland for Columbia and they weren’t having it. Endowments are down, and this economy has done a number on everyone including our distinguished educational establishments.

Then I took a poll and overwhelmingly, everyone said “Go to Maryland.” Grudgingly, I agree.

Sigh… Looks like I’ll be debt free in D.C. (((SMILE)))


  1. The biggest honor came from knowing that Columbia "wanted" you, right? Maybe it is smarter to go to U of M, but you can always say that Columbia was willing to give you a chance, that's not the case for everybody.

    Congrats again.

  2. (((HUGS BRITTNI)))

    It's taken everything in my power to tell them no. I want this more than anything, but in the long run it could really have some serious ramifications. sigh.

  3. Congrats on achieving part of your goal and being accepted to Journalism school. Welcome to the East and bring your thermals. You are going to do great.

  4. Girl, I totally see why you would struggle with this decision, but I guarantee you, you'll be happier being debt free in DC. Everybody I know who went to Columbia is in debt up the wahzooo lol Of course, they get to say "i went to columbia" after half of their paycheck goes to Fannie Mae...i guess u just have to decide whats important. A friend of mine who went there for grad school said to me other day, "Lord knows what i would do if i had these student loans AND a child. I might have to get food stamps!" lol

  5. Nomad- Thanks ((HUGS))! You're right J-School is only part of the goal.

    Suga- Lmao @ "Wahzoo" Consider it stolen... lol After working in a field that I am not passionate about (because of the pay), I am just not willing to do it again. I want to be a journalist, and nothing is going to stop me not even a mountain of debt. lol

  6. Congrats on being accepted to the U. of Maryland!!! I am aiming for grad school myself at Regent University.

    I think one of the biggest shock I got when I attended the University of South Carolina was when our Law and Ethics of Mass Media class was told you don't even need a degree to be in journalism...***screech***!! Yeah, I was trying to figure out why am I there in the first place..hmm but oh well. I learned alot there and I had alot of fun at that school.

    As long as you have the passion and the love for the field, you are going to make it.

    Oh that debt thing...been out of undergrad 10 years and still telling the folks "please defer" lol. Congratulations again!!!

  7. Don't know how I missed this post...which would explain why I was asking you about DC a few weeks back LOL

    Columbia is an honor but I'm glad you went with U of Maryland. Trust me, you don't want this debt I got girl! I was just talking to my lenders the other day and giving them a sob story (you know I mentioned Babybottoms LOL). For some reason they are really nice to you when you act like you don't even have a piece of bread to feed yo child that is on the way LOL

    I wish you nothing but the best in what you are doing!!!!