Which SLP university should I pick? – At least consider the debt


I’ve had a few moments lately where I started thinking about what I was thinking, and how I came to think that way. It has little to do with the school’s name on my diploma or how much it cost me. It has everything to do with the supervisors and professors who taught me there. Obviously the university hired the professors and paid them, then I in-turn gave them all my money. So thank you University of West Georgia. But really….a degree in Speech-Language Pathology is a 2 year mentor-ship, littered with independent studying and sleepless nights. Conveniently located on a campus where everyone else is just as mentor-dependent. 

The quality of a mentor does not directly correlate with the amount of debt you have to incur in order to achieve a degree in Speech-Language Pathology.

debt slp

My tuition was under $4,000 per semester, for a total of 6 semesters. That’s $24,000 total. I had a graduate assistantship for 4 semesters which paid my tuition and gave me a stipend that covered the difference. The last 2 semesters I worked full time at night and on weekends at a fabric store, which helped covered the cost. I took out one small $7,000 loan to live off of for 7 months. Real life people.

Did I go to a world-renowned university? No. Did my professors have their names engraved on ASHA’s Gold club list (not real, btw)? Not that I’m aware of. But I professors and supervisors that made me exactly the SLP I am today. They were practicing SLPs, who worked nights and weekends like me as an SLP, in addition to being a professor. They were practicing what they preached. And I took notes like a freak.

2014: Semi-debt free. Educated. Employed. Thriving. In Alaska.

Now, before you break out your pitchforks, those of you who went to those world-renowned universities, I’m sure you are equally educated,  hopefully employed, and thriving – if not more so. I’m not saying those universities don’t give you an edge in the field on ground-breaking research. You may have studied under some of the greats – I’m a little jealous. Maybe that’s where this post is coming from in some aspects. But mostly, this post is coming from those of you still in debt from selecting a university where the cost was overwhelming.

At the time, you think it’s worth it. And maybe it is. But debt is so debilitating. Even a small amount of debt. When a reader emails to ask how they should select the universities they apply to, my honest reply is to look into cost. I’m sorry, but you aren’t guaranteed grants and assistantships. You never know about debt forgiveness later on down the road. Maybe you don’t want to work in the places you can get your debt forgiven. What if something happens and you can’t? But then again, if you are only accepted to a university that is out-of-state and will cost close to $10,000 + a semester, what would you do? Or if you options are both equally expensive, what do you do?

I know there are some SLPs out there still paying off their debt. I realize I’m an exception to the debt rule, but shouldn’t it factor in? At least a little bit? What would I feel like if I graduated with $30,000 worth of debt? I don’t know. Maybe I’m the wrong person to write this post. But debt matters to me. And I just want it to be something you think about as you are accepted to universities across the U.S.

Cheers from Alaska.

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About SLP_Echo

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist completing my Clinical Fellowship in Alaska.

Posted on January 28, 2014, in #slp2b and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. From a Canadian perspective (where we don’t have nearly as many SLP programs as the U.S.) I think many of the students here don’t have their pick of the crop when it comes to grad school, unless of course they apply to the U.S. and pay hefty international fees. I know a few classmates who were accepted to 2 programs in Canada, but that’s about it. For me, my school was my only choice, which of course I was ecstatic about! However, this also meant that after coming out of my undergrad almost debt free, I will incur a LARGE amount of debt by the time I graduate. It’s not just tuition – it’s living expenses, textbooks, you name it. Kudos to you for working – there doesn’t seem to be as many opportunities here for graduate assistantships and other similar things like that. As much as I’ll be burdened by this debt for a while, there’s no way I would have turned down this opportunity. I guess it’s good to weigh out the benefits and costs!

  2. I agree, Lia – I was limited to distance education programs because of family circumstances, and am thrilled to have been accepted to my top pick – but it’s out of state and I will have to take out loans. I feel sure it will be worth it in the end …

  3. For sure! I think if people have options that are less expensive it’s definitely a good idea to think those through…I would have!

  4. But either way it is definitely worth it to be an SLP one day :)

  5. This is great insight, so very helpful – thank you!

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