ALEX CHADWICK, host:
As companies lay off workers, maybe you are thinking about going back to school either to maybe save your job or maybe change careers and get a new job. So is it smart to go back to school now in a very difficult economy? Michelle Singletary, Day to Day's personal finance contributor. Michelle what should people consider thinking about getting more education for their careers now?
MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Well first and foremost, and Alex you know this will surprise you is to count the cost. So many are afraid of losing their job right now and they want to protect themselves so they think right away let me go graduate school, get some more education, and I will earn more money and be more valuable. But you have to figure out is that education going to actually pay off? If you have to take on a lot of debt, the cost of graduate school has sky rocketed rising about 60 percent in the past decade. So you know lots of people are taking on an amazing amount of debt to go to graduate school and when they finish, they aren't earning as much money as they thought and then they spend decades paying this debt off.
CHADWICK: And I wonder about recent college graduates you know. Is it a good idea for them to go back to school? I know some who want to.
SINGLETARY: You have to ask yourself why are you going to school? Are you going to school because you have no job opportunities or you're not sure what you want to do then you probably want to wait till you know because it's so expensive. And the other thing is you know, save yourself the time and money and stress and get a job instead. I have known people who say went to law school.
They wanted to be lawyers, really hadn't thought it through you know, lawyers make a lot of money, went through law school, taken a lot of debt and then didn't want to be a lawyer. And can you imagine the strain on the family that you got all this debt and then you don't want to practice? Now if you know you want to be a doctor or lawyer, you absolutely know, then of course go ahead. But if not I would take some time out and work first.
CHADWICK: You know you have people in your family, I have people in my family, young people thinking about this, are there kind of tips that you figured out for how can you get that graduate degree and not pay for all of it?
SINGLETARY: Absolutely. Listen I have a graduate degree. I got my masters in business from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where I grew up, and I had my employer pay for it. And I took and structured my courses to fit my job. I was in business so I got a business degree. You want to also look for scholarship money. There are a lot of scholarship money for graduate students. One database that I want you to check out is called fastweb.com. It's an amazing resource for scholarships for graduate students. And you also want to check out apprenticeship programs or research assistant programs where you go to school and you can be a teacher assistant and they will pay for some or if not all of your cost to go to graduate school. So do a lot of research and look for scholarship information.
See if there are some employers that you can work for. Now sometimes in those cases they may require you to work for them a couple of years afterwards. I think that's a good deal if they're paying for you to go that you agree to work for a couple of years afterwards. So you know don't give up for graduate school looking for money because there is money out there.
CHADWICK: Day to Day Personal Finance Contributor Michelle Singletary. Her column The Color of Money is syndicated by the Washington Post, and she takes questions here at Day to Day. Writers go to npr.org click Contact Us, go to Day to Day and put Michelle in the subject line. Michelle thanks again.
SINGLETARY: You're welcome.