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Online Classes | Budgeting

Affording Online Graduate School: Tips for Managing Your Budget

Whatever your situation—a fresh undergraduate degree recipient; a parent trying to balance work, family and school; or a full-time worker trying to enhance your career path—graduate school is a great option for improving your potential. 

What are some things to keep in mind when preparing your budget for continuing your education? Here are some graduate school financial tips to keep in mind.

Understanding the Costs

When setting up your budget for the next phase of your education, whether it’s on-campus or online, you’ll have to account for a few line items, such as tuition, technology and potential lab fees. This amount will depend on which classes you choose to take and which program you’re pursuing. For example, SDSU offers the Great Plains IDEA program, which includes a breadth of classes from 20 public universities in the region but may cost a bit more than an SDSU online degree program.

Additional expenses involved in your graduate school experience include a working Wi-Fi connection and a computer or tablet that meets these technology specifications.

Identifying Savings Potential

Attending graduate school isn’t only about the costs—there are opportunities for savings as well. Certain tax credits and deductions can be claimed by continuing your education. If you are still claimed as a dependent on a parent or guardian’s tax filing, that parent or guardian may be entitled to the Lifetime Learning Credit. The same goes for if you’re returning to school as an independent adult—you might be eligible for the Lifetime Learning Credit or the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

The Lifetime Learning Credit is meant to help eligible students with as much as $2,000 in educational expenses. The American Opportunity Tax Credit is slightly more restrictive—it can only be claimed four years—but is often greater in benefit if you are eligible. Learn more here.

Balancing Work

Thanks to online degree options like the ones offered at SDSU, you’re able to continue your full-time or part-time job and avoid relocating to the nearest physical campus. SDSU’s online degree programs, for example, offer up a full-fledged graduate school experience with flexible scheduling and classes on your laptop or tablet—wherever you are.

Maintain your salary while you’re working on your graduate degree—learn more about the major options at SDSU.

Fortifying Your Future

Managing your graduate school budget is about more than just the handful of years in which you’re actively taking classes. The payoff is the impact it will have on your budget once the degree is in your hand. The benefit is having a graduate degree greatly enhances your earning prospects in your future career. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that a person with a master’s degree achieves a median salary of 18 percent more than similarly aged bachelor’s degree holders. 

That’s an impact that will pay off in dividends for your household budget well into the future.

Start Today

Ready to get started with your graduate degree online? Contact the Office of Continuing and Distance Education for more information—call 605-688-4154, email distance@sdstate.edu or start your application online.

More from Rabbit Food

Download the Online Graduate Degree Guide