My older daughter's boyfriend plans to get his master's degree. His goal is to work in the area of public policy or politics. Public service / mission-driven work to support a progressive agenda. A master's is critical for career mobility in his field.
In watching his application process unfold, I've been amazed by the financial side of master's programs.
This is a young person who will be supporting himself through grad school. He is entering a good profession, one that he is well-suited for. But his is not a career path that will make anyone wealthy.
Below is one of the "Award Packages" that he was offered.
What this "award package" amounts to is $84,773 in debt. (He turned them down).
This particular school is expensive. Private. Located in an urban area. A high-quality master's program.
Creating impactful, transformative, and immersive educational programs is incredibly expensive. Having professors who are writing the books, and are networked into professional circles, is a highly positive advantage for students.
Quality is costly. I want the very best educational programs possible – including master's programs.
Looking at this "award package," however, I can't help but wonder if there is a better way?
The reality of master's programs is that most awards are loans. There is little in the way of tuition-discounting, scholarships, and need-based assistance available in most master's programs.
The growth of master's debt is a trend that I've written about in the past. In that piece, I wondered if schools from across the postsecondary ecosystem should be prioritizing the investigation of low-cost scaled online graduate programs.
Is a master's program in a non-high income earning profession worth going $84K in debt?
Can you imagine higher ed making an ecosystem-wide pivot to lower-cost online programs?
What would be lost if we made that change?
Is it possible to construct the immersive and transformative master's program that $87K buys you within the limitations of a $30K degree?
Who is leading the charge to create high-quality but affordably priced master's degrees?