Which graduate degrees leave debt that is the hardest to pay off?
Source: Neonbrand/ Unsplash

Let’s face it. While lifelong learning is inherently good, many of us choose to go to graduate school so we can take more home on payday.

Studies routinely show the strong relationship between attaining a postgraduate qualification and commanding a higher salary. For example, a software engineer can expect to earn almost 20 percent more after completing an extra two years of postgraduate study.

But graduate study can be very expensive, requiring years of loan repayments, so is it always worth it?

For dentists, optometrists and veterinarians: maybe not, says Credible, a US-based online marketplace for financial products like student loans and credit cards. Newly released data shows that people in these industries have the greatest student loan debt compared with their earnings soon after graduation.

The company’s analysis came from 91,000 graduate degree holders who used Credible’s services between January 2015 and March 2018 to request interest rates for potentially refinancing their student loan debt.

“We need more transparency to help students get a handle on what they will earn after graduation, and how much debt those earnings will support,” said Stephen Dash, Founder and CEO of Credible.

Source: Credible

“When choosing graduate school programs, it’s easy for students to get distracted by potential high salaries, regardless of the student loan debt incurred.”

Years after completing school, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, physician assistants and veterinarians still devote more than 10 percent of their monthly income to their student loan repayments, showed the analysis.

Optometrists get the worst deal – on average forking out 14.9 percent of their monthly income towards paying off student debt.

In contrast, computer scientists, people with MBAs or other finance masters, and nurses allocated the smallest proportion of their monthly earnings to repay loans – between 6.4 and 7.1 percent.

Even though engineers, nurses and computer scientists earn less than their counterparts in dentistry or optometry, they are in a much better position to pay off their graduate school debt after entering the workforce.

“Our analysis shows that students who balance student loan debt against their future earnings are often in a better financial position to pay back their loans,” Dash said.

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