News flash: Masters programs are expensive! ;)

I'm cutting every corner I can spot, of course, to lower costs as much as possible. Fortunately my only new expenses are currently tuition, books, and occasional other things required for a class… and I'm finding, to my pleased surprise, that I'm good at this — whew.

Fortunately the San Jose University and the San Jose Public Library system have an agreement: patrons of either can check books out of both. This means I've found several of the more obscure textbooks in the university's library. I'm trying to write a review of each book after reading, so once I've had to return them I still have a good 'feel' for their content.

I've also discovered, which has excellent prices on used books. The amount they charge for shipping is less than that charged by every other on-line used book store I've found (i.e. amazon,, &, so overall they're the cheapest. Further, I don't mind purchasing used books, so I've been buying the "Very Good" or "Good" versions rather than the "Brand New" or "Like New" — which is another small bit of savings.

Between the library and, I've managed to get all ten textbooks for the four classes of this quarter… for under $50.00! Yes, that's under fifty dollars. I'm quite pleased!

Class Stuff
Whenever possible I'm borrowing or improvising what I can. Frex, one of my classes is titled The Priestess: Sacred Women in Ancient, Tribal, & Contemporary Culture, and another is titled Art as Sacred Practice. As I realized years ago in my anthropology classes, it's easy to sit there in a brightly lit, air conditioned, sterile classroom surrounded by young people you barely know and certainly don't consider friends — all in their designer clothes, all trying so hard to be coolly mature and detached, all amusedly think how "quaintly primitive" the folks being studied are.

It's very different, though, to actually experience some of the ritual practices you're studying! Lots more fun too. ;)

To their credit, the professors in both the classes I mentioned are not keeping their teachings detachedly intellectual; parts of the classes will be experiential as well. It sounds very cool: we'll be drumming together to try to feel how the rituals worked and felt, and we'll be doing some painting for the sacred art class.

So instead of buying a drum I'll be bringing a 5 gallon empty plastic water container. They have a wonderful deep, echoing boom to them, and ever since I saw them used very effectively by street bands at local street fairs, I've wanted to try playing one also. For the art class, the professor is bringing the textbook and the art tools to class for us for $65.00. I can't borrow the art tools, since I don't know what tools she's bringing. However, I'm going to try borrowing the book from a second year student who's already taken the class, and see if I can get the total cost lowered commensurately.

This is my biggest concern, and may force me to have to wait a year to take this program, which would make me very unhappy. First the good part: I can use Stafford loans to pay for my tuition, and not have to start paying them back until after the two year program, plus a post-graduation six-month grace period for job hunting. However, there are two types of Stafford loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are exactly what I need; the interest on the loan for the next two and a half years is paid by the government.

Unfortunately… I can't get a large enough subsidized loan to pay all my tuition, so the remainder ($24,000 for the two years) is in an unsubsidized loan.

Bleah. That's another unexpected (and currently unbudgeted) $140.00 per month in interest — for two and a half years. I don't have the money to pay that to keep the loan size manageable… but I can't not afford to pay it either. Having a great honking two-point-five-year-loan growing like that behind me while I'm in school would be very unwise, financially.

I'd originally worked out my budget so I could repay the loan in only five years, even if nothing changed in my currently self-employed situation. I'd done so under the assumption that all my tuition would be covered by a subsidized Stafford loan, since I'd initially been assured that'd be easy to get. Now I either have to figure out another $140.00 per month into the budget… or probably hold off on the program for a year. I really don't want to do that if I can think of any way to swing this.

So I'm currently frantically researching all the options I can think of to bring in more money. This is where (hopefully) all of you come in: does anyone have any suggestions re ways to bring in more money? It needs to be something that doesn't take more than about 20 hours a month, that I can set up or do relatively quickly and easily, that doesn't take money to start. I've had "monetizing" my web log suggested already — I'm working on getting adsense and a paypal button in place, and whipping together a store, and I'm already an amazon associate.

If you can suggest anything else, could you either reply in comments or email me, please? Thanks for your input!

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