How One Dissertation Student Used Her Students Loans to Save $20,000

It’s not everyday that you stop and think about how much it actually costs to get a doctoral degree (Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D., Pharm.D., etc.), but you probably do think about it from time to time when you get a bill for your tuition, right? Getting a doctoral degree isn’t easy, and it isn’t cheap, but it certainly is one of the most worthwhile investments you can make in yourself. Attending a public school can certainly save you tons of money in getting your graduate degree, but many people choose the route of private school for a variety of factors (e.g., prestige, networking, etc.) and every semester that can be shortened will save around $30,000.

This leads us to the example of one of our dissertation mentees, Jody, who was struggling to finish her dissertation on any sort of a timely manner. Each semester she was paying $5,000 to continue working on her dissertation. She was working a part-time job, but just didn’t have the time to devote enough to finish her dissertation in a timely manner. More notably was her lack of focus. With her part-time job, long commute to work, and personal/family time, she just couldn’t focus enough to devote 2-4 hours chunks of time to actually sit and work on her dissertation.

We see this situation all the time. A dissertation is not like a math assignment which you can open your book and work on for 20 minutes at a time and just come back to later without any loss of efficiency. Writing a dissertation requires discipline to devote large chunks of time spent just working on your dissertation. Why? Because there’s so much material, thoughts, ideas, concepts, reading, etc. that every time you start again it takes some time for your mind to recall and organize everything you were working on the last time. We’ve noticed that just setting up to work on a dissertation typically takes 10-15 minutes alone (opening your computer files, organizing any physical paper, organizing your thoughts, etc.). Attempting to work on a dissertation once a week for 30 minutes at a time will just lead to a very long process in completing your dissertation.

So when Jody approached us after feeling like she was just treading water, we organized a plan that started with looking at how much she would save (both time and money) by hiring a dissertation tutor. At her current progression rate, Jody thought it would take her another 8 semester to completely finish her dissertation. While it is not completely uncommon to see students taking 4-5 years to complete a dissertation, it’s really not necessary. Hiring the right tutor or coach will cut this time down significantly, ultimately saving you a lot of money, time, and frustration.

Projected Cost of Jody’s Dissertation (without tutor)
# of Projected Semesters: 8
Cost/Semester: $5,000
Projected Total Cost: $40,000

Projected Cost of Jody’s Dissertation (with tutor)
# of Projected Semesters: 2
Cost/Semester: $5,000
Sub-Total Cost: $10,000
Dissertation Tutoring Cost: $10,000
Total Cost: $20,000

Cost Savings: $40,000-$20,000= $20,000

One of the main reasons most students obtain a doctoral degree is for career advancement. So if you include the opportunity cost of not obtaining a dissertation as quickly as possible, the cost savings are even higher when you hire a dissertation tutor.

So where do student loans play into all of this? Simple. In order to pay for the cost of hiring a dissertation tutor, Jody took out an additional student loan of $5,000 per semester for 2 semesters. This student loan was able to pay for her dissertation tutor costs and ultimately saved her over $20,000! If you don’t have the upfront money to pay for a dissertation right now, you can request additional student loans and use these funds to pay your dissertation tutor. It’s a small investment which ultimately can and will save you a lot more than the value of the student loan/dissertation tutor.