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06/19/2005: "dammit"

Last Monday I sent a bunch of questions to the department that is offering the Masters degree that I have applied to. The response has been slow in coming, so I was happy to finally see an e-mail from their office in my inbox this weekend. (It was dated Thursday, but for some reason I hadn't checked my e-mail until yetsterday.) The pleasure of receiving the e-mail lasted only until I opened it.

The program's been canceled.

Argh!! The distance education program was originally scheduled to launch this September, but in order to make it work as well as possible they opted to delay the launch until January 2006. That was fine by me. The full-time program is still very young itself, so I admire their attitude that they'd rather get the distance ed version right later instead of launching a flawed program. However, now they've identified some further worries about the execution of the program, and thereby have canceled the program outright. It may come back, but there's no guarantee there. And that, my friends, sucks.

So, I have a few options. First, I can bitch about my application fee long enough until I get it refunded. Second, I can scramble like hell and try and turn my 3-year part-time program application into a full-time one-year application, which will involve a LOT more scrambling trying to figure out where the hell I'm going to come up with not only the $24k in tuition but the money my family and I are going to require to live on top of that from September until July. (Whew.) Third, I can give up and find myself a career.

The first seems petty. The last sucks. The middle one... there's potential there, but God almighty, how on earth can I do that? Even the best well-heeled parents have their limits. Hmm.. maybe it's time to AGGRESSIVELY market myself to a company that wants a grad from this program, and agree to a 5 year contract at 4/5ths pay, with the first year being devoted entirely to my degree. That would be great, but I may as well let the flying pigs out of my butt first.

Other options? Well, there's equity in our house. I could borrow the tuition (it's already been offered by my parents) and simply live off of the equity for a year. I'd need to talk to my accountant to make sure I wouldn't be falling into any tax traps or sinking my credit rating by doing so. Trying to reduce our monthly monetary needs might help a little bit, but we've already been doing that for the past three years (including consolidating loans and refinancing), so there really isn't much else that can be axed without starting to drastically affect our lifestyle.

One thought I brainstormed was to buy another house and rent it out. I live in a university town with a ridiculously low vacancy rate, so getting tennants wouldn't be a problem. I could get a place, maybe get $2k a month in rent, about half of which would be mortgage payment (less if I go for an ultra-long term amortization), and the rest could help us get by month-to-month. At the very least, it would be that much less that I'd have to borrow. I'll have to think more on it to see if this idea actually has any merit.

Dammit. It's scramble time. Either school happens now, or it dies on the table. The part-time program might come back, but will my career at that point be receptive to a part-time degree? What if it never comes back? Should I simply bite the bullet and go for full-time? If so, does that mean I should stop looking for full-time work?

Stay tuned.

Replies: 2 Comments

on Monday, June 20th, Robert Hahn said

If you pay for a course, and they cancel it, you have every right to ask for your money back.

Further, I'd be surprised if they're not already working out how to do just that.

But you should call them and find out.

More debt is not the way to go. Buying a house and renting it may be, but research that thoroughly first. You may be in for more then you bargained there.

Consider a different university offering a similar program first.

on Monday, June 20th, mr.ska said

Debt may be the only solution. The question is, to whom will the debt be owed? Some debts are better than others.

There is no similar program. The closest is offered at McMaster, and it's not what I'm looking for. Sigh.

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