“We want to bring this to people’s attention,” Pietrantonio
says. “It’s not just ‘I’m not a student anymore, so student issues
don’t apply to me.’”
In the meantime, training programs have an important role
to play in helping students and prospective students understand
the lifelong consequences of their financial decisions, Ameen
and the other study authors say.
One key is that prospective students should be fully
informed of their financial prospects before they start a
graduate program, says Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD, associate
executive director of APAGS and another co-author of the
study. APAGS has a toolkit available ( www.apa.org/apags/
resources/ affording-repaying.aspx) to help students make that
assessment. But training programs need to do more, the study
“Typically, at no point during the admissions process
is information provided about the full cost of attending
(including associated non-tuition expenses, such as attending
conferences or buying assessment materials), limits on and
consequences of borrowing, expected repayment terms or
average monthly payment based on the amount of loans
taken. … This information should be routinely provided by
psychology programs to prospective students,” they write.
For current students, El-Ghoroury says, the APAGS toolkit
also offers information on loan repayment options, including
the so-called “pay-as-you-earn” programs that limit monthly
payments to a percentage of your income, as well as the public
service loan forgiveness program. (For more ways to pay back
loans, see the article on page 52.)
Such programs are crucial to helping current students
and early career psychologists deal with the debt they’ve
accumulated, El-Ghoroury says, and APA advocates for their
protection and expansion.
But for future students, the key is education before that debt
is taken on.
“Students need to take some agency and do research into
the types of programs available, how much debt students
graduate with, how much funding is available,” says Doran.
“And the training community needs to make a lot more of that
information easily available.” n
Percentage of students and early career psychologists
who reported life delays due to educational debt
n Current graduate students n Early career psychologists
Doran, J. M., Kraha, A., Marks, L. R., Ameen, E. J., & El-Ghoroury, N. H. (2016).
Graduate debt in psychology: A quantitative analysis. Training and Education in
Professional Psychology, 10( 1), 3-13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tep0000112