In this post, we discuss how much does it cost to do an MS in USA and why it is affordable for you. Some of the content is taken from the MS Book: Smart Engineer’s Complete Guide to MS in USA.
Understanding Grad School finances
If you are concerned about finances of managing a Master’s degree education, a good way to start is to understand:
- how much does it cost to do MS in USA
- how long will it take you to recover your expenses
For this, we need to understand what total expenses you are likely to incur, what kind of income are you expecting after graduation and how much can you save. This is known as break even analysis and I have covered it in detail in the MS book so that you know what to expect. Doing this analysis using the tools in the book will let you feel more comfortable about the decision.
What is the cost of doing MS in USA?
The cost of MS in USA is a sum total of what you spend in getting there + what you spend after getting there. Following is the breakdown:
- Taking the tests – $500
- Applying to Grad Schools – $1000-1500
- Visa – $600 (F1 and SEVIS fee)
- Traveling to USA – $1500
- Tuition fee – $50,000
- Living Expenses – $18,000
In short, the cost of doing your Master’s in US can go up to $75,000 which comes to ₹50 lac at the exchange rate of 1 USD = INR 75.
How long does it take to recover your money?
For e.g. if you spend $77000 on your MS (tuition + living + interest on loan), getting $14000 in summer internship, paying a 12% interest rate on your loan of Rs 20L, graduating in 4 semesters and saving 40% of your post-tax salary ($84000 p.a), it will take you roughly 3.15 years to break even in worst case. If you find any assistance or on-campus job (which is very feasible and again, discussed in the book) or graduating in 3 or fewer semesters, you can break even sooner.
The details of the calculations are covered in the book. You get to download a sheet (snapshot above) that shows you exactly how long will it take to recover your investment in the Grad School. You can add variables as per your specific scenario and play with it.
Let’s say that the sheet tells you that it will take roughly 2 years to recoup your money. Usually, the starting salary in US far exceeds the package in India at that level upon graduation. You can compare the financial benefits and kind of work exposure you are getting in US to decide whether it makes sense for you.
What did I get from doing an MS in USA?
Coming from a middle class family and a mediocre college in Central India, I received admission from MS in CS program at UIUC. That was the 4th best program in the world. From there, I managed to secure an internship at Wall Street for which only 7 people were selected all across the world (I was actually the only girl in there). After getting one of the highest packages ($100,000+) during those days, I decided to get into startups and secured admission to the MBA program at New York University which is 10th best MBA program in the world.
Seeing the world
I have lived in Manhattan, worked at Wall Street and startups. That is where I got to network with some of the finest entrepreneurs and investors in USA. Meanwhile, I traveled the world and finally came to India to work on my own ventures and write. I find my life personally and professionally rewarding and I want you to enjoy yours without compromising on your dreams.
Finding the joy of helping people
Plus, we have helped some of the students at Scholar Strategy inch towards their dream life. For example, one of our first students, Supreeth, had a failed application season before he joined us. He had a good profile but had some weaknesses. We helped him highlight his strengths, focus on the programs that were better for him and re-apply. He wanted to get into Robotics and he was able to get into one of the Top 10 programs in that field. After a year, he emailed us to inform that he will be interning at Microsoft Research Labs. Now that is what I call a perfect hustle and not giving up till you reach where you want to be.
You would say I got lucky or Supreeth got lucky or I had some advantage that you don’t. But my background will show you that I began just like you are now. And that anyone can reach the places I did. Back in college, I also thought that US education is unaffordable but now I know how wrong I was! It is within your reach. Not only that, I strongly believe it is worth all the expenses.
I devoted an entire section in the MS Book to tell you how to think about money and finances and why MS is totally affordable. But let’s quickly understand how to look at it here.
Education is not an expense but an investment in yourself
I considered my MS fee as an investment and not an expense. If that is how you look at it, then you realize that its not the money that is sinking down the drain but you are gaining:
- Skills that make you employable
- A credible degree in the resume
- A great brand name to help you stand out in the competition
Imagine applying for a job with a credible international grad school degree in your resume. Who is the employer going to recruit? You with a reputed degree from US or someone with a relatively unknown degree in India?
And with a little hustle, you can manage funding for your education abroad.