School Me Saturday 10/29/22- does going back to school have a ROI?

ROI. Otherwise known as Return On Investment.

One of the questions that you have to ask yourself is if the outlay for school will be worth what you get out of it.

And that is a very personal question.

It depends.

That is not a cop out.

This university PhD jaunt is my 5th (!) nursing school.

Let’s talk nitty gritty detail and money.

Creighton 1993-1995. This was paid for by student loan, scholarship from Marshalls, and an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) scholarship that covered some of my second year at Creighton.

After I hurt my shoulder and lost my scholarship, I did not return to school after my sophomore year. This was because I had lost my scholarship and I just gave up? I’m not sure. I do know I needed two separate surgeries to repair the labral damage.

The total cost to me for this was $4500 in student loans that I paid back by 1998. And a $10,000 AFROTC bill that I got after I left Creighton. It took me ten years of monthly payments to pay that off. I began paying it back in 1997, and finished in 2007. And I have the letter from the government to prove it.

Considering I didn’t finish, and owed $14,500 was this a good ROI? I would say no. I was not a nurse and had to pay off those student loans. The classes that I did complete did come in handy later and decreased the outlay for Chamberlain. Like many things in life, this was a wash, I guess.

Napa Valley College 1998-2001. My parents bought my books, I paid cash for the classes. At the end of this I was a nurse. An ADN nurse, but a nurse. This was definitely worth the ROI.

However, working as a CNA Thursday-Monday evenings 1500-2300, and class every day of the week but Thursday was a tough road. And probably helped set up my workaholic habits. And I maintained those for YEARS.

Chamberlain College 2015-2016. I had a wild notion to go back to school for my BSN. Things were happening in the hospital system. And I started to think what would I do if I got hurt? The OR is a dangerous place. I needed a fall back position and a BSN would help. I paid for Chamberlain with student loans and $3,000 when the billing cycle and the student loan disbursement did not meet. $19,000 in student loans, which I immediately rolled over into my MSN.

Knowing what I know now, there are cheaper ADN-BSN bridge options out there. I advertise these to my coworkers monthly. And offer tutoring.

Queens University of Charlotte 2017-2020. I went here for the MSN program. It was touted to be affordable and less than $15,000 for everything. I paid with a combination of student loans, and out of pocket expenses. I haven’t used the MSN as of yet, because covid. But I did use it as a steeping stool for my last university. We paid off all $29,000 in student loans from Chamberlain and Queens in September 2021. I was able to accomplish this with clinical ladder money, tuition reimbursement, and picking up extra shifts/extra call. So many extra shifts.

University of North Carolina Greensboro is hopefully my final school. It is $500/credit hour and the PhD program is 57 credit hours to graduate. By my calculation this will be roughly $29,000 for class and another $3,000 for fees. I am paying for this through a loan that will be reimbursed 85% if I teach nursing after I graduate. As this has always been an end game goal of mine, I don’t think I will find that too onerous. If I do the math and I fulfill the faculty part of the loan, I will have to pay about $6,000. That brings the grand total to roughly $55,000 in education over 30+ years.

I am saving all extra money gained from clinical ladder, tuition reimbursement, and hospital bonuses in a separate savings account to pay back the PhD loan if I am unable to fulfill the contract I signed.

My goal in continuing my education is to have a fall back if I get too old or too injured to work as an OR nurse. And to further nursing science in the operating room. The BSN, the MSN would open doors for me to step outside of the OR.

But who wants to do that? Not me. Not yet.

What does this mean for my personal ROI?

If and when I finish my PhD?

Absolutely worth it. Would do again.

Finding if going back to school is an ROI for you is a personal decision. Let’s talk about it. And we’ll see if we can figure out a good program, tuition reimbursement, and scholarship opportunities. Because every nurse can be who they want to be, and have as much education to get there. But if you want to go further, I can help.

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