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Those Hidden Fees of Grad School

11 June 2014

It's getting to be that time of year again for seniors of undergraduate speech-language pathology programs-- application season! I'm not sure about all programs, but my school already gave us a pep talk in April about how to prepare during the summer. It's crazy how many things need to be done, or at least  thought of during summer. Of course, some students, like myself, like to find things to research in their free time and have already been looking at certain points of the checklist already... like interesting grad schools. I know that some have thought of this, and others haven't. I attribute my searching to two things: I just like to look up things, and I consider myself 1/2 undergrad 1/2 post-bacc since I came into this degree as a transfer (from Linguistics). So, I've always been on the more self-driven side of my peers and researching everything about SLP within my first year of the program since I was transferring.

Anyway... sorry for that tangent. It has a purpose though! These searches, including those on forums like gradcafe, have led me to realize there are many more things to consider besides the tuition of grad school itself. These "hidden" fees can be enough to change your decision once you realize how much they can add up!

1. Cost of an apartment

Many undergrads don't get an apartment until their junior or senior year. Some may even be lucky (or maybe not lucky when you consider the amount of their loans) enough to live in a dorm their entire undergraduate career. With an apartment comes certain fees, which you should consider:

-Each city has a different "average" rate: For example, Pittsburgh can be about 500 for a shared and 6-700 for a single. Boston on the other hand? Mad expensive!

- Utilities: Don't forget the cost of utilities. If you're living in a studio, you have to pay them all yourself (unless some are included in rent). This can make your monthly payments go from $50 in a 4-person apartment to $150 alone depending on what utilities you decide are necessary (TV and Internet plans)

-Transportation: Find an apartment in an area you deem an acceptable distance from campus. Walking is always cheap, especially in the city. Some universities give you free public transportation with your ID, so you may not need a car. So, consider if you'll need a car (+ gas) or if you need to pay for public transport or not.

2. Factor in General Travel

Will you be living close to family and friends, or will they be hours (or even states) away? Do you plan on visiting them occasionally or for holidays? Then search the cost for gas for train/bus/plane travel to and from your house to see if you can afford that X times a semester while you are in school.

3. Supplies:

Think about any supplies you need. These include: books, furniture, kitchenware, physicals or clearances, school supplies, lesson planning supplies, and any other "small" things that might add up.

4. The Big Move:

If you are planning on going cross- state or cross-country for school, then you might rack up even more costs. Will you be able to fit everything in your car or in your checked luggage? Or will you need to rent a moving truck? How much will the gas or tickets cost to do this?

These are just several of the hidden costs that grad school has. For some, these can make or break the decision for going to a certain school, while others think about the long term investment. Of course, if you manage to get a scholarship, assistantship or other form of reimbursement that helps alleviate some of the cost of grad school, then these may not weigh as much on your decision.  Either way, good luck to all in my current position and hope you find your best match!

If you can think of any other hidden costs, feel free to comment!