I'm Finishing Grad School Debt-Free (& So Can You)

Illustration by Louisa Cannell
I’m currently doing the seemingly impossible: paying for an MFA at a private school in NYC. No, I don’t have a trust fund or rich parents. Yes, I have my own room — I also have a gym membership, and I haven’t eaten Top Ramen in years. I promise it’s possible, even while the costs of grad school and NYC housing are rising at faster rates than public disdain for Donald Trump. Then there’s the fact that much of the “how to fund grad school” advice out there forgets that getting a master’s degree requires money for more than just tuition. It’s everything from food to housing to dish soap to time management. How do I do it? Well, I have two jobs, a strict homework schedule, and scrappy spending habits.
I’m not trying to offer a manual for how to “have it all” — because that’s impossible. Knowing and having what you want, however, is obtainable. Getting an MFA in NYC has been a lifelong dream of mine, even though I’ve always known that a beautiful, Pinterest-worthy apartment in the East Village and daily $6 artisan lattes on my parents’ dollar wouldn’t be an option. My life isn’t glamorous, but it works — and it’s the life I want. Here are my tips for how to fund that daily (and nightly) grad school grind.