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tedd's avatar

Which available method should I use to pay for this class I'm taking?

Asked by tedd (14018 points ) March 20th, 2012

Ok, long story short…. I’m attempting to get a job in the Forensic Science field (most likely as a Crime Scene Tech/investigator, or a Crime Lab Tech.). I am qualified for the position based on my education, or at least I’ve been qualified for probably 6–7 of those I’ve applied for (so much so that my resume at least reached the consideration step). Anyways, last week I took a test for a position with Grand Rapids Michigan’s crime lab. Basically it was a test on the field (again, Forensics) to make sure you have the know how. If you scored 70% or higher on the test you then take an oral test with the lab managers, and then they take the best applicant from the pol they’ve built. I literally had no clue what was going to be on this test, and the best hints I could get from their HR person weren’t very helpful. Through studying what I could find on forensics, I still managed to pull a 69%, but that wasn’t enough to move on.

In an effort to better prepare myself for these “entrance” tests (which several of the jobs I’m looking at have), I found a class at the local community college. It’s an intro to Forensics class, it’s brand new, and the guy who teaches the program at the main state school locally (Ohio State) teaches it there as well.

The problem is the cost. It’s roughly $550 including books. I don’t have a major savings to pull from other than a stock account, but I would take a huge loss if I sold my stocks now to raise the money. My three available options are as follows:

1) I could put the tuition and book costs on my credit card. It is a zero % interest card at the moment (and will be til November). I did an intro rate card with the goal of paying it down by then, or swapping it to a new 0% interest card in November. As such I’ve been paying a bunch of extra money into it every month. The tuition costs would wipe out at least one months of payments (I’ve been putting ~$400/month into it), putting me that much further behind there… but it would pay for the tuition.

2) I could take a loan from my 401k. Now before people jump on me, this is not a withdrawal from my 401k. Basically it would be me “selling” my shares of the 401k fund (not all of my shares, enough to get the money needed) to the bank, and then me buying back as many shares as the money they pay me will. So if I sold $100 worth of shares, I would buy back $100 worth of shares (+interest) over the course of the loan. This can hurt my 401k in that the money I “borrow” from it is not exposed to the market, and cannot accrue market interest. It can also help the 401k, because if the market goes down, I still make the interest I pay on the loan (that interest goes to me, not the bank), and I don’t lose any money from the stock devaluing (not to mention I buy back more stocks because they cost less so my original $100 buys more of them). If I do that option I can choose exactly how long I want the term of the loan to be, be it 2 months or 50 years.

3) My g/f has offered to loan me the money. We are moving in together and we’re rather close, but I don’t feel very comfortable borrowing that much money from her. Not to mention it would take me some time to pay her back in full. What if things sour in our relationship or if she suddenly/desperately needs her money?

What do you guys think?

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6 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Girl friend. Absolutely. Cheapest form of money. And you’re good for it, right?

Of course, you could maybe get a student loan somewhere. There may be grants, as well or other scholarships. If you do enough research, you might find more help than you ever knew existed.

But to me, this is a no brainer.

Wish I’d a had a girlfriend to borrow from for post bachelor’s education. Instead I had to borrow from my father. That was all right, but a girlfriend is even better.

tedd's avatar

@wundayatta I’ve got enough student loans already, lol.. I doubt anyone would even give me another. Besides, if I’m doing it that way, it would probably end up costing more than the options I’ve listed when the interest kicks in.

I’ve been investigating grants and such, but in general I don’t qualify for them. I’m in the unfortunate position of making wayyyy more than enough money to disqualify me for a lot of educational grants, but thanks to my student loans (which aren’t taken into consideration) that money isn’t enough to actually pay for the class I’d like to take.

The g/f would definitely be cheapest, but I just am very iffy about the prospect of bringing a money issue between us. Borrowing 10 bucks, or even $100 is one thing. Borrowing over $500 that I won’t have paid back for 6 months or more….. that makes me nervous because of all the what ifs. Plus what happens when I .. get take out one night cuz I’m stressed and don’t want to cook, and she’s upset with me cuz I could’ve saved that money and helped pay her back? Or what happens if we break up? What happens if she suddenly needs new car tires and has to have the money TODAY?

marinelife's avatar

For me, it would be the credit card. the reason for not the 401k is that your ultimate goal is to change jobs, and then you wouldn’t have paid all of the money back yet, and it would all come due when you left or you would have to pay taxes on it.

gailcalled's avatar

Can you set up a rigid payback schedule with your girlfriend that would be valid if you do break up? What’s the most you can afford to repay? How long would it take to give her back the $500? $50/month for 10 months? $75 for 6⅔, $100 for five?

If she makes the loan, does she have a cushion for herself for new tires etc. therapy, etc?

Sunny2's avatar

I agree with borrowing from your girl friend with the terms written out and signed and dated by both of you. Make copies for each of you. That insures her getting paid back or taking you to small claims court should you fail to come through..

Judi's avatar

If you borrow from the gf write out the agrrement and both of you sign it. If things go south, continue to make all the payments as agreed. Also make the payments from your checking account, not cash, and don’t verbally modify the agreement, (I’ll just pay your share of the rent instead of the payment.) keep your paper trail clean.

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