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GI Bill Dilemma
#1
So... here's the deal.

Most of us probably already know that the Post 9/11 stipend for online students is a bit of a rip off - $700ish a month or so. By contrast, my local housing rate is one of the highest in the country at about $2100 a month. That was for the most part fine for undergrad, when I could leverage things by taking one in-person class while completing the rest of my degree online, and get the best of both worlds basically.

But now I'm looking at grad school, and I've got a dilemma.

Option A) Attend grad school locally --- oops, nope, sorry. I don't actually qualify for admission into that program, so that option's out.

Option B) Attend WGU. Total GI Bill payout for my remaining 21 months will be about $12000 for tuition & fees, plus about $16000 for housing and books stipends. 21 months at WGU is slightly less than 4 terms, so I might actually be out some tuition money if I take a full two years. Theoretically, it might be possible to finish WGU faster than that, but I don't want to plan on it.

Option C) Enroll in a second undergraduate degree locally, taking a full course load. 21 months of benefits is about 6 semesters. Tuition and fees per semester is about $3500 x 6 = $21000. Then 21 months of local housing & books stipend would be about $47000. That puts me about $40,000 ahead of the online plan. *THEN* since the tuition at WGU is so low, I can just pay out of pocket using the GI Bill money I've banked, and even if it takes two full years ($12k), I'm *still* money ahead on the whole plan by about $28k, plus I'll get an extra degree in the bargain.


Pros and cons:

Pros:

Option B would be faster, simpler, and would get me qualified in a career field that I really want to be in sooner.

Option C is about $40k extra money, which would be *really*, *really* useful. Also, I could pretty much pick anything I wanted to major in for my second degree, so I could have quite a bit of fun with it since I won't really need that degree for anything in particular.

Cons:

Option B feels like I'm not making the most of my benefits.

Option C would entail either being enrolled in two schools simultaneously (probably a bad plan unless I'm not working, which is not ideal either - this only really makes financial sense if the GI Bill money is *extra* rather than something I rely on for living expenses), or delaying grad school by at least a year (I can bank enough money in 3 semesters to pay for WGU, press pause on the second undergrad until WGU is done, and then go back to the local school later). The pressure to graduate wouldn't necessarily be there for the second degree, so it wouldn't be as stressful as the first one has been, but that doesn't mean it'll be any less *work*.


Complicating factor: If I wait to go to WGU until after my GI Bill is used up, I can probably qualify for an additional $15000 or so in grant money for my graduate school. I qualify for it already, really, but since it's a military program they won't pay unless you've already exhausted your GI Bill benefits.

So... what to do, what to do...
DSST | Astronomy - 68 | Anthropology - 73 | HTYH - 450 | Intro to Comp. - 454 | Religions - 459 | Lifespan Dev. - 419 | Counseling - 409 | Substance Abuse - 456 | Geography - 463 | Environment & Humanity - 463 | CLEP | A & I Lit - 75 | Humanities - 57 | Psych - 64 | Western Civ I - 57 | College Comp. - 65 | College Math - 61 | Ed. Psych - 65 | US History I - 68 | Soc Sci & History - 69 | Western Civ II - 53 | US History II - 61 | UExcel | College Writing - A | Social Psych - B | Abnormal Psych - B | Cultural Div. - B | Juvenile Delinquency - B | World Pop. - A | Psych of Adulthood & Aging - A | Straighterline | Intro to Philosophy - 75% | American Gov. - 89% | Macroecon | Microecon | Bus. Communication | Bus. Ethics | Cultural Anth. - 96% |

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#2
IMO using gi bill on WGU would be a complete waste. Why do you not qualify for the grad school program? There are no other schools that offer a graduate program in your area?
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#3
gingerbeefE Wrote:IMO using gi bill on WGU would be a complete waste. Why do you not qualify for the grad school program? There are no other schools that offer a graduate program in your area?

Got to agree. Although I do understand why a lot of people would do it, the BAH.
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#4
You also need to factor in what a year's delay starting your true career will cost you. I presume a year's salary is significant. Personally, I would have a hard time delaying something that important to me.
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#5
So the reason I don't qualify for the local grad program is that I lack some specific pre-requisites (or, rather, they don't accept CBE or other alternative credit options to fill those requirements) It'd take a couple of semesters to fix that, and the GI bill only pays for classes that count toward a degree program you're admitted to - not prerequisite classes for a program you're not in yet. I also, sadly, don't meet the GPA requirement. Misspent youth (I was not ready for college at 17, it turns out - from a responsibility perspective, not an academic one).

The two other colleges in the area don't offer the same program. WGU does, and their admissions are a bit more forgiving.

Salary wise, it's a wash. I make pretty good money now - the career change would be an improvement in lifestyle, and would get me doing something a bit more meaningful than the governmental paper pushing I do now, but my pay isn't likely to change much, at least for the first few years.

Really, it's starting to look more and more like using the GI Bill locally is the best option, then paying out of pocket for WGU. And then I can take a bunch of Anthropology and Alaska Studies classes - which would be fun, interesting, and also actually extremely relevant to the work I want to do Smile. Win win.
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#6
Would it work to apply for another bachelors degree, just take those needed masters prereqs, then apply for the local masters? It's not like you have to actually finish the degree.
NanoDegree: Intro to Self-Driving Cars (in prog)
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TESU: BA in Comp Sci
TECEP:Env Ethics (2015); TESU PLA:Software Eng, Computer Arch, C++, Advanced C++, Data Struct (2015); TESU Courses:Capstone, Database Mngmnt Sys, Op Sys, Artificial Intel, Discrete Math, Intro to Portfolio Dev, Intro PLA (2014-16); DSST:Anthro, Pers Fin, Astronomy (2014); CLEP:Intro to Soc (2014); Saylor.org:Intro to Computers (2014); CC: 69 units (1980-88)

PLA Tips Thread - TESU: What is in a Portfolio?
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#7
davewill Wrote:Would it work to apply for another bachelors degree, just take those needed masters prereqs, then apply for the local masters? It's not like you have to actually finish the degree.

Only if I can find a degree program that contains those specific courses, which I'm not sure I can. I'm looking at a MA in teaching social studies (high school). Even having almost completed a BA in Soc Sci, I didn't meet WGU's pre-requisites either, but I filled them with Straighterline and some CBE.

For the local school I'd have to redo... Let's see...

Western Civ I & II, U.S. History I & II, both economics classes, poli sci, international relations, american government, and two sociology classes.

Most of those would be lower level electives in any degree program, and I already have too many of those. In any case, it would irritate me to have to redo so many credits I've already earned. WGU has a perfectly good teaching program that's accepted up here (anything NCATE accredited would work). If I'm going to take extra undergrad classes, I'd rather cover new ground instead of wasting a bunch of time rehashing the same old lower division stuff.
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#8
Leherself Wrote:Only if I can find a degree program that contains those specific courses, which I'm not sure I can. I'm looking at a MA in teaching social studies (high school). Even having almost completed a BA in Soc Sci, I didn't meet WGU's pre-requisites either, but I filled them with Straighterline and some CBE.

For the local school I'd have to redo... Let's see...

Western Civ I & II, U.S. History I & II, both economics classes, poli sci, international relations, american government, and two sociology classes.

Most of those would be lower level electives in any degree program, and I already have too many of those. In any case, it would irritate me to have to redo so many credits I've already earned. WGU has a perfectly good teaching program that's accepted up here (anything NCATE accredited would work). If I'm going to take extra undergrad classes, I'd rather cover new ground instead of wasting a bunch of time rehashing the same old lower division stuff.

I agree, that would drive me bonkers. If it was a class or two, ok, I could handle it. But not 11!! Holy cats!
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#9
dfrecore Wrote:I agree, that would drive me bonkers. If it was a class or two, ok, I could handle it. But not 11!! Holy cats!
FSM! I couldn't stomach that either. Leherself, how hard have to tried to get admitted for the local masters? Depending on the type of program and your other experience, the admission reqs may not be completely set in stone. Otherwise, I would personally go for B. I wouldn't be able to stand waiting to do what I want to do or taking a bunch of schooling I had no real use for.
NanoDegree: Intro to Self-Driving Cars (in prog)
Coursera: Stanford Machine Learning (in prog)
TESU: BA in Comp Sci
TECEP:Env Ethics (2015); TESU PLA:Software Eng, Computer Arch, C++, Advanced C++, Data Struct (2015); TESU Courses:Capstone, Database Mngmnt Sys, Op Sys, Artificial Intel, Discrete Math, Intro to Portfolio Dev, Intro PLA (2014-16); DSST:Anthro, Pers Fin, Astronomy (2014); CLEP:Intro to Soc (2014); Saylor.org:Intro to Computers (2014); CC: 69 units (1980-88)

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#10
davewill Wrote:FSM! I couldn't stomach that either. Leherself, how hard have to tried to get admitted for the local masters? Depending on the type of program and your other experience, the admission reqs may not be completely set in stone. Otherwise, I would personally go for B. I wouldn't be able to stand waiting to do what I want to do or taking a bunch of schooling I had no real use for.

In fairness, I haven't tried too hard to get into it. I did talk to a rep from that department who confirmed what the requirements were. You can even be admitted with one or two pre-requisites outstanding (though you have to complete them before graduation) - eleven is more than can be waived. They said that they might be persuaded to accept CLEP for a couple of things (econ was one), but the school absolutely won't accept alternative credit for history, which is 4 classes by itself. They won't accept TECEPs either ("other school's challenge exams"), which scuttles my poli sci credits too.

Really, WGU's program being online and self paced works better for me in any case. I'll be able to keep working longer.

My boyfriend reminded me that I'm in a rather enviable position - worrying about which school will get me paid more, rather than shopping around for what'll cost me least - and I shouldn't complain too much, lol Wink.

I do need to take two specific classes locally (a multicultural class and a class in Alaska Studies - required for state licensure, and have to be taken from an Alaskan school), and really, getting some extra Alaskan studies and anthropology courses in would help me quite a bit - hardly useless Smile. The best paying schools are in rural areas with majority native populations, and they're almost always hiring. Especially as a social studies teacher, the more I know about the local cultures and history, the more effective I'll be, and I'll have a better chance of making things more relevant to the kids. In a way, teaching in rural Alaska is kind of like teaching in a foreign country - just an unfortunate foreign country that's bound by American educational standards instead of being able to create their own. Thankfully I have a pretty good idea of what I'd be getting into since my boyfriend has been teaching out there for several years.

And who knows, maybe I'll be able to speed ninja my way through WGU's program, like some of the other board members have their business and IT degrees. It might not take me as long as I think right now.
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