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Old 13-02-2015, 08:10   #1
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supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

The last time I posted in this sub-forum was in 2010, when I asked about the viability of a sort of boat co-opt, to fund long term cruising. I never pursued that idea, because, as it was pointed out to me in that thread, dependence on other individuals for paying for cruising is a bad position to be in.
A lot has happened since that post in 2010.

In the last 5 years, I have started a career, bought a house, and got married.

But the dream remains. I told my now wife about my cruising dream, and she is not only up for it, but during times of discouragement, she is adamant that I stay the course and accomplish the dream. “We ARE doing this” she says. Life is good.

My experience level has changed. We have been “training” on my dad’s 36 foot keelboat. We have done multiple passages, weathered storms, dealt with engine failures, making do when the electronic gizmos fail, reefing, etc etc. I remember in a philosophy class in college my professor said “knowledge is knowledge, wisdom is accepting how much knowledge you lack!” So it is with our sailing, the more we learn the more we find we need to learn. I’ve been sailing since I was 5, and I’m amazed my how little I know, I really get a chuckle out of the guys saying “im taking off around the world, I hope to learn how to sail in the first month.” Boy, those guys must have a lot of ego, or I’m a really SLOW learner.

My financial position has changed as well. Whereas in 2010 I was coming up with hackneyed ideas of financing old boats, today I have about 110k saved up. The kitty is growing. I am 26, she is 21. (no cradle robbing jokes PLEASE)

You’ll have to excuse the intro, I saw my last post and got nostalgic. It’s funny how we can look back and see ourselves get older, but the thing which dreams are made of are not subject to something so trivial as time.
Now, with that rather windy intro aside, here is a plan I’m considering.
My wife is currently getting her associate RN. She is currently finishing up her “core” classes, at which point she will apply to a nursing program. We anticipate she will have to wait about a year to get in. (there’s a waiting list) while she’s waiting she will be working full time, and all of those monies will go into the kitty. Then, once she starts the program, she will have 2 years of school.

So, 3 years from now she will have her associate RN. In that time she will have also contributed a NET (subtract tuition! Ouch) of about 30k to the kitty. Also, over those 3 years I will have contributed about 40k to the kitty, for a total kitty of about 180k.

Now then, HERE is where it gets interesting. After she gets her associates, she needs to go on to get her BSN. (bachelors) That will take 1.5-2 years. Further still, she would like to go on to get her Masters in nursing, which take an additional 1-1.5 years, for a total of 3-4 years of schooling, at a full-time class load. Additionally, I very much want to get my MBA, which takes around 3 years at a full time schedule. We both would prefer to get through this higher education by working on our school full-time, as the alternative (part time basis in addition to full time jobs) would push the graduation date out about 6 years. That means student loans, not just for tuition, but for living expenses too.

We have found an interesting alternative. We have found schools for both of our academic programs which offer 100% online classes. 100%, you never step foot on campus. The “online time” is once a week, where you take a test, quiz, exam, or email papers assignments you’ve completed. Further still, if you are fulltime, you qualify for loans to pay for the tuition AND a stipend for LIVING COSTS, despite it being an online curriculum. So what if we happen to LIVE on a cruising sailboat? The amount borrowed for living costs would likely be LESS than what is typically borrowed for a land based life in the US, especially for students attending schools in major metropolitan areas, since living on a sailboat (can be) relatively cheap.

What’s to prohibit me from splitting the 180k I’ll have, sending 130ish on the boat and gear, keep 50 for expenses and emergencies, and use student loan living stipends to supplement (read SUPPLEMENT) my living expenses which run lower than an equivalent land based full time student life.

We would obtain our masters degrees in relatively short order, (full time 3 years) for less money/debt (cheaper living expenses than staying ashore) finance a portion of the trip (via living stipends), and return home with higher earning power. (to dig us out of the hole the trip puts us in.) oh….. and we would also see the world on a sailboat.

Oh and one more thing. Those loans don’t accrue interest or become payable until 6-9 months after we graduate. We would time the conclusion of the trip with graduation, and list the boat for sale. We would use the proceeds from that sale to pay off the student loans, thereby escaping sizable interest charges. We would likely end up with 0 money, but ALSO 0 debt. And we would both have masters degrees, i would be about 34, she would be 27.

it seems availability of internet would be the cornerstone of this whole strategy; satellite solutions seem far too cost prohibitive.

thoughts on the general idea?
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Old 13-02-2015, 08:40   #2
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

I tried studying at sea a few times and i never made it work for two reasons:

1) There's so much more to do and think about than what you're supposed to be studying.
2) It's very easy to become distanced from shore-based life, the stresses of the world etc. when at sea. Indeed, that's kind of the idea.

I gave up on it and just did the shore thing while sailing coastally in the evenings and at weekend and taking off on longer passages on other peoples boats during the longer holidays. I'm glad i did it that way because it allowed me to devote 100% of my time to whatever i was doing at the time without the stress of thinking 'i should be doing *something* instead', and i got to see arguably more of the world by sailing on other people's boats than i would have on my own because i was able to chop and change from one boat to another and one geographical location to another. While i was at university i also managed a trip from Nova Scotia to the Cook Islands, a trans-atlantic and a trip up the Eastern Seaboard of the States and through the Great Lakes. It meant i wasn't able to make much money during the holidays but since i was working as crew i also wasn't paying anything either.

That's not to say you couldn't manage it. I will confess that i am exceptionally good at procrastinating and putting things off. I need 'the fear' in order to do something that i don't want to do. That is, there needs to be a very real and imminent reason for me to do it. If you're good at balancing things then maybe give it a go. I couldn't make it work though.
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Old 13-02-2015, 08:49   #3
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

Not much difference in pay over the long run between an associates degree in Nursing and a BSN. The BSN actually works out to be a negative financially if you subtract the two earning years required to get it. Try to build a fire under your young nurse to be; it only took me 18 months to earn my nursing degree, but I did have a bachelors degree prior with all the chemistry, math and social sciences already completed.

Sounds like you have a good plan. She can work anywhere in the world as a traveling nurse after some good clinical experience.
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Old 13-02-2015, 09:06   #4
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

Getting a degree online can work for some people but you have to have the discipline to stay with it. Takes a lot more self motivation than going to a class every day.

Also I think a huge question, is this program fully accredited by a recognized agency? http://www.chea.org/pdf/CHEA_USDE_AllAccred.pdf

Many of these online universities are total BS, take in anyone that can pay or get a loan and have just about zero credibility with employers. My wife is a professional that works in the health care field and sees this problem constantly.

There are good online programs but do your research carefully.
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Old 13-02-2015, 09:15   #5
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

-Kenomac

- believe it or not, a BSN is now a requirement for most hospitals, so far the best we have found is a hospital that will give her a job as an RN, but only if she is enrolled in BSN classes, and finishes them in 5 years. whereas before the BSN was non-essential, it is now a perquisite for employment in the nursing field. I work in the health industry, and our Director of Nursing tells me she suspects this is because of the BSN's focus on management, and the ever increasing "business" aspect of the health field in the US.

Associate RNs with career experience have still been able to get work, but if you're just out of school, you need the BSN. However, i doubt that requirement holds in international locales, however finding work that adheres to the cruising schedule, and obtaining visas etc, would be difficult, wouldn't it?
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Old 13-02-2015, 09:38   #6
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

skipmac - very valid point, we would only do this if we can get a degree from an accredited school. Many major universities are offering 100% online graduate programs, and this is what we would use, so the diploma is from a brick and mortar university, and nobody would know we did it online.

As for staying self-disciplined, this would be a pretty big challenge, considering WHERE we'll be!

what about the availability of internet? Are there any cruisers out there than can speak to the probability of finding high speed internet at least once a week? And if you can, where? i.e. is there readily available internet in Hiva Oa? what about panama? etc etc
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Old 13-02-2015, 09:42   #7
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

Depends on what you're looking for. If you want to start a career and move up the ladder in one location, the BSN is the best choice. But if you want to go cruising and don't expect to remain in any one location for any significant amount of time, the associates can work out just fine. My wife, daughter, nephew and about two dozen good friends all have BSN degrees and work in acute hospital settings. My brother is a nurse practitioner who works at a large county hospital in So Cal. All of them having invested the time and money into a bachelors degree think it's the only way to go.

My good friend Kenny and I both have the associates nursing degree along with a bachelors in another subject. It hasn't held us back one bit, in fact... Kenny makes the same annual salary working at a Emergency room Nurse in Boston as my brother who works as a nurse practitioner.

I'm not looking for a new career at this point in my life. I'm perfectly happy going into an acute or rehab setting and just passing the medication on a per diem basis... I want the flexible schedule that allows us to travel.
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Old 13-02-2015, 09:46   #8
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

Quote:
Originally Posted by ileestma View Post
-Kenomac

- believe it or not, a BSN is now a requirement for most hospitals, so far the best we have found is a hospital that will give her a job as an RN, but only if she is enrolled in BSN classes, and finishes them in 5 years. whereas before the BSN was non-essential, it is now a perquisite for employment in the nursing field. I work in the health industry, and our Director of Nursing tells me she suspects this is because of the BSN's focus on management, and the ever increasing "business" aspect of the health field in the US.

Associate RNs with career experience have still been able to get work, but if you're just out of school, you need the BSN. However, i doubt that requirement holds in international locales, however finding work that adheres to the cruising schedule, and obtaining visas etc, would be difficult, wouldn't it?
Wife just came home for lunch and says this is exactly the case in our area. Especially without previous nursing experience it is getting more difficult to find a job with just an RN. Ongoing the pay is also much better with the BN and opportunities for advancement dramatically better.

She said all the working RNs she knows are trying to go back to get the BN if they have the time and money.
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Old 13-02-2015, 09:57   #9
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

Online RN to BSN at OHIO

here's a 100% online RN to BSN program from an accredited university, which has a brick and mortar campus, and is rated #104 in the midwest by Forbes magazine.

we have 3 years to select our respective schools, but the point is we won't end up with degrees from "godaddy.com university". this is an important point because it increases our chances of getting LOANS that will pay for the tuition, and a portion of our cruising costs, and it will ensure we have a degree from a reputable university which will help us get a good job.

in fact, the relatively recent trend of major universities offering 100% online programs is the only thing that makes this whole idea viable.

but we're getting off topic. my question is, can you use student loans to help fund cruising, and would you be able to complete an online program while cruising?
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Old 13-02-2015, 10:30   #10
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

If you're doing the MBA for yourself, and only for yourself, by all means do it online. Maybe, for instance, you want to learn basic financial accounting to run a small business. If that's the case though, you don't need the degree, you can take courses at Harvard Business School online through HBX (their online platform) for free, as well as some others through the EdX platform (also free).

If you're doing your MBA for career advancement or to "have the degree", do look into the numbers. Most of the studies I've seen indicate that if you don't go to a top 10-20 school, then don't go, as the ROI isn't there. Also, an MBA full-time was two years for me, exec ed would have been three years. MBAs in the UK and Europe take one year, I believe.

Also recognize that when you go to a top 10-20 school, you're not going just for the education, but also for the networking, alumni contacts, on-site campus interviews, etc. You won't get these with an online MBA.

At 25, I was in your position with $100+K and I was choosing between cruising and the MBA. I did the MBA at a highly ranked school entirely to stay with the girl I loved. Unfortunately, we just recently separated, and I'm going sailing for a while to get my head straight. I don't regret any of the time we spent together, but I am now going cruising (hopefully) when I'm four years older, possibly less employable, and "only" have $50K. Also, for what it's worth, business schools probably won't care if you go cruising for two years and then apply at 28, they may even think it makes you stand out. Similar with nursing schools I imagine. It would at least be worth a call to the admissions office at both to find out. Like you said, you'll have the student loans interest-free anyways, so might as well use them after cruising rather than during.
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Old 13-02-2015, 10:44   #11
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

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Originally Posted by brownoarsman View Post
business schools probably won't care if you go cruising for two years and then apply at 28, they may even think it makes you stand out. Similar with nursing schools I imagine. It would at least be worth a call to the admissions office at both to find out. Like you said, you'll have the student loans interest-free anyways, so might as well use them after cruising rather than during.
but, then i would have to live with no real income for several years cruising off of savings, only to get back to the US and live with no income as a full time student. Hence the proposed overlap.

I am quite grateful for the replies received, but i am not as concerned with discussions regarding the cost/benefit of obtaining higher education, or school selection, but rather the viability of obtaining a degree while cruising on a sailboat via an online curriculum, and financing part of said cruising with student loan living stipends.

I have to determine if it's even possible before i confirm it's advisable.
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Old 13-02-2015, 10:55   #12
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

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Originally Posted by ileestma View Post
what about the availability of internet? Are there any cruisers out there than can speak to the probability of finding high speed internet at least once a week? And if you can, where? i.e. is there readily available internet in Hiva Oa? what about panama? etc etc
One of the most common questions on the forum. If you are at sea or in a very isolated area then internet access is a problem. Well not really a problem, just very, very, very expensive.

99% of the time if you are close to land in any more or less inhabited region you will have internet access. In the better locations you will have wifi access from a marina or subscribe to a local source. Often you will have to go with a cellular 3G or 4G plan which is much longer range, wider coverage and usually more reliable. Do a quick search on this forum on key word internet or similar and be prepared to devote a few hours to reading the answers.
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Old 13-02-2015, 14:04   #13
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

You have not mentioned where you propose to cruise, and as far as internet goes, it matters... a lot! Cruising in the Med vs the South Pacific islands, for instance!

Nor have you described what you consider "cruising" to be. For some, it means a lot of passage making, others stay in one general region and explore in depth, doing relatively little long passage sailing. This too will influence internet access.

I can't speak for you, of course, but doing intensive study would be difficult for me in a cruising environment. Not only does one have the lure of all the normal cruising activities, one has the ever present need for boat maintenance. We have often found ourselves flat out being just cruisers, let alone cruiser-students! YMMV, of course!

It's an audacious plan, and I can see some downsides, but I hope that you can make it work for you both.

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Old 14-02-2015, 09:47   #14
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

A very interesting thread. It looks like you have done your homework and have a plan. To me, the important thing is to have a plan and accept that once you set off that plan may change! in fact it will change - I can pretty much guarantee that. But that is OK as you will find out more about yourself in the first 6 months than you ever knew.


My wife and I did a 7 month cruise last year. During that time I worked about 20 hours a week - some weeks more; some less. Sometimes my time was made up of a trip back to the US. Personally, I think 20 hours was the most I could commit to and still enjoy the trip and keep on top of maintenance and boat chores. When we were in the Bahamas, internet access was a bit of a chore....or expensive, but we made it work. BTW, I am an engineer and my wife is a nurse. My wife "retired" before the trip.....and still seems to be. If you are interested in our trip, please visit our blog.


Good luck, fair winds.........go for it!
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Old 14-02-2015, 10:55   #15
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Re: supplemental kitty income; getting a masters underway

Great idea's.
It is hard to study aboard. My wife and I both undertook recent studies via the University of Liverpool who offer campus degree's on-line. I did an MSc whilst my wife completed a MBA. We took 24 months and spent an average of two hours per day, six days per week. The difficulty was managing this time and paying some awful internet fee's, via our satellite 'phone. The degree's themselves were not cheap either. We did these more as a challenge to ourselves and to show our kids that earning extra qualifications can be achieved if you are determined enough. Keeping the motivation was a challenge.
However, it is doable. A friend who is a single hander is now about to commence his dissertaion for his Masters.
Good luck.
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