I'm having a difficult time deciding on when to start my masters. If you read this entire thing and help me, THANK YOU! A little background on my finances: I have $40,000 in student loan debt, and $16,000 in other debt (cars, credit cards, etc.). I don't have any savings, and live paycheck-to-paycheck. I am working my booty off to pay the $16,000 off as quickly as possible (I'm currently looking for a 2nd job). As for my student loans, if I continue to teach and make payments under the Income Based Repayment Plan for the next 9 years, whatever is left will be forgiven. So, I'm trying not to panic too much about the student loans, because over half will be forgiven. I'm currently living on my own, not married, no kids, 3rd year of teaching. In Wisconsin, new teachers have to do a Professional Development Plan (PDP) to renew their license. We used to have to take 6 credits every 5 years to renew, but it all changed in 2005. (The PDP is nice because it doesn't have to cost a lot of money: I can attend conferences-paid for by my school-read books, observe other teachers, etc.) However, my district requires me to take the 6 credits in addition to doing the PDP in order to move up the pay scale. If I don't take 6 credits in the next 3 years I will be "frozen" on the pay scale. This is just in my district, unfortunately, and I've tried to get it changed, but they aren't budging. A few months ago I decided to go ahead and start my masters. That way, I will have the 6 credits problem solved, and I'll get it over with early in my career. I have already applied for, and been accepted, to a master's program. It's a cohort model, so 18 people have to be enrolled in order for it to start up. This might not happen for another year or so... Because I'm working on paying off my debt, I had to apply for financial aide to pay for school (my masters will cost about $16,000). However, I really really REALLY don't want to go into more debt to get my masters, so part of me doesn't want to start yet. But if I don't start masters in the next few years, I would have to somehow find 6 credits to take (which wouldn't be applied to my masters, because I want to do the cohort program), and I would have to find money to pay for them. I could just save up cash for my masters after I paid off all my debt in about 18 months. However, then I wouldn't be starting my masters for about another 3 years. But, it would probably be worth it in the long run because I wouldn't have an extra $16,000 in student loans. BUT, if I get my masters in the next few years, I will move up the pay scale a lot, so I will be making more money. I just don't know what is best for my future...What would you do?!!