Friday, May 25, 2007

Grad School Admissions Process Cost Projections

So, I'm getting pretty serious about applying to grad school this cycle, which means I need to get pretty serious about paying for applying to grad school.

A quick breakdown of some estimated costs follows.

-Princeton Review Literature subject test study guide: $20 (bought it two days ago, from my "unexpected expenses" line item)
-Kaplan prep course for GRE general: $1,149 (parentally subsidized or no go--if the latter, there will be general GRE prep materials at a cost of about $100)
-GRE general registration: $130
Other study materials for the subject test: some are free through work (because we publish them), but some I'll need to either buy (eBay, or swap for through work (it's an established procedure, but I'm a little dubious about the ethics involved in swapping company books for books I want personally, even though others seem to do it). I'm estimating $50.
-GRE subject test registration: $130
-GRE score reports: $17 per school (God, BITE me, ETS), with four reports included in the test fee. If I estimate I'm applying to 8 schools, and that I know what 4 of them are by the time I take my GREs, that'll come out to $64. There's also a $6 fee for getting your subject test scores early by phone, and I predict I won't be able to resist that. Bring it up to $70. Note, too, that I'm not sure whether or not I'll have to double that number to include the subject test reports or if they're included. My guess, informed by prior experience with ETS, would be the former, so bring it on up to $140.
-Application fees: around $50-$80 per school. Estimating high, I come up with an appalling number: $640.
-Transcript requests: my undergrad charges $3 per transcript. Again using the eight-schools estimate: $24.
-Postage. There are a lot of pre-stamped envelopes here. For example, each of my three recommenders will get stamped envelopes to send their recommendations to each of my 8 schools. That's about $10 right there. I'll spend money on sending things to schools, too, and then consider that there'll probably be a disaster or two requiring Fed-Ex. I'll say $40.

The grand total? A whopping $1,174. Not including the prep course.


Okay, so say we estimate I bring an extra $200 a month (after taxes) on my freelance job. If I do that every month between now and December, I should make enough to cover the whole grad school process without touching my savings. Nevertheless, I am not going to enjoy shelling out all that money I could have saved, and I kind of think ETS should be indicted for racketeering.

(Princeton Review has a page on the cost breakdowns of applications processes here if you're trying to predict costs on an application process that's not a PhD in English.)


Strange Bird said...

I suppose it could be worse. At least you don't have to join LSDAS or pay another $12 per application to have transcripts and letters of recommendation sent to the same schools you already gave $85 each :).

Do you need a general GRE course, though? I'd have been awfully surprised if PhD English programs looked too closely at that score.

Good luck!

S/100/30 said...

There's also a $6 fee for getting your scores early by phone, and I predict I won't be able to resist that.

Is this for the subject? They still make people wait for scores?

When I took the general two years ago, it was computer based and I received my scores immediately. (They pop up on the screen. It makes for a few intense seconds when you're waiting for them!)

English Major said...

strange bird, the general GRE prep is debatable—I'd kind of like to do it for two reasons: a) to give myself a timeline for knocking that test off, and b) to help make up in part for some poor grades at the beginning of my academic career.

s/100/30, yeah, it's the subject test. The general is still computerized, and I dread those seconds.

deb said...

I'm pretty sure that ETS sends all of your scores, so if you order the score reports after your last test (general or subject) it shoud include both.

Also, my grad school apps were almost entirely electronic - including letters of rec - so you probably won't need most of that postage budget!

mOOm said...

You do need to study/prepare for the test but I don't think a course is needed for the GRE. OTOH I come across people who didn't take it seriously and that is a big mistake too. We had a meeting of grad directors in our school (humanities and social sciences) yesterday and one thing we discussed was how we use GRE scores. Some ignore it totally (art) or ignore the math (non-econ social science). We expect a high math score and will ignore the verbal for non-native speakers if there is other good evidence that they can write English. The main place where it is essential though is in the cross-campus competition for entering student fellowships. It helps them compare students across disciplines.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about the about a money grab. Not one thing about my PhD had to do with anything the GRE tested...

SF Money Musings said...

ETS is such a ripoff! It costs so much just to send SAT scores to colleges while in high school. They make money on every single little aspect of the post-test score. If I remember correctly, it cost more to send the scores out a few months later than right away. The little fees they charge add up real fast.

story girl said...

Resist the early scores fee! You can wait the extra week. Just keep busy and don't think about it

Anonymous said...

You probably don't need the GRE prep course. Verbal is a cakewalk as long as you read regularly and have a decent vocabulary. Spend about a week boning up on basic math -- and by basic, I mean seventh grade. An English PhD program probably won't care too much about the math, and it's worth keeping in mind that your percentile rank on it will look low because of the large number of engineering types who get 800s.

I have heard that you might actually want to study for the English subject test, though.

Margo said...

I work for Kaplan. We're in the midst of our big grad-school push, and are offering $125 off courses for a limited time. That's the best discount we will offer all year.

s dutta said...

Hey you're getting off cheap - lots of colleges have hiked transcript fees to unimaginable levels - e.g: My college of engineering charges a whopping $35 per transcript (and considering this is india, the exchange rate will probably force me to wipe out some of my savings...)

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