Minimizing loans as much as possible will make the overall cost of education palatable, but for candidates pursuing a career in psychology, it is difficult to get through undergraduate and postgraduate work without taking at least some loan-based assistance.
According to Peterson’s, the average cost of a master’s degree depends greatly on the program, type of school, and the student’s status as an in-state or out-of-state resident. On average, the site notes, public university postgraduates pay $30,000 annually while private university postgrads pay $40,000 annually. If a master’s degree takes two years to complete, that can range anywhere from $60,000-$80,000 per year, and psychology majors hoping to work in the field will need to go beyond that.
A doctoral degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), runs a net of around $23,200 annually at public institutions and $35,800 annually at private schools. This is tuition and fees only and does not account for books, meals, living arrangements, etc. With the average program taking five years to complete, that is a cost of potentially $116,000-$179,000 per year in addition to undergraduate costs and the cost of a master’s degree.
To go further with the math, let’s use the example of a student who starts out at community college. He completes his general education requirements before transferring to an in-state public college or university and finishing his bachelor’s degree. Under this scenario, the student has already accrued $25,000 in tuition and fees. Add another two years at a public university ($60,000) to finish his master’s degree. Once his doctoral degree is finished — assuming he is able to keep his net costs low for the five-year period, he would owe around $201,000.
Looking at 2013, Debt.org found that $5,750 per student in “gift aid from all sources” was awarded to full-time undergraduates at public colleges and universities. Full-time undergraduates at private, nonprofit schools received an average of $15,680 per student. Using the student in our example above, he could have theoretically escaped with an undergraduate degree only $2,000 in debt. That would drop the total cost of his education to $178,000.
For postgraduates, scholarships like these at the American Psychological Association (APA) can pay as much as $5,000 annually, and one is not limited in the number of applications they can make to these and other gift aid opportunities.