How To Afford Living In San Diego As A student + 1st Year Summer Classes + Balancing A Job


Future Doctor As Teacher

June 2023

Entering a doctorate program after ten years of working is anything but an easy decision. Not only is it mentally stressful to think about the course load, but the financial aspect of it can keep you up at night. If I am being honest, there have been a few times recently that I thought about not going forward due to financial constraints.

A few considerations I suggest before diving head into graduate school are first to create a budget. Download a template from the internet and get down to the nitty-gritty of where your money is actually going. In doing so, you will become uncomfortably familiar with how much things are costing you. For example, subscriptions you never use, automated payments to online programs that you forgot existed, and how that regular coffee pit stop and fancy nail dates are adding up. Now I am not suggesting you stop living your life; however, I am suggesting you evaluate what you define as self-care versus just throwing money out the window.

After looking at my own expenses, I realized that not being able to pick up extra shifts to make more money was rather terrifying and I know for a fact that credit card debt keeps me up at night. With all things considered, my goal in the next few months is to have a zero balance on my credit cards, a nice cushion in my savings, and the continued belief that wealth is continually coming into my life. What you believe becomes your reality.

How am I going to do this? I maximized my student loans by applying for FAFSA and Grad Plus Loans. The Grad Plus Loans are designed so that after your tuition is paid, the balance goes into your bank account for living. Complete transparency here when I say I have been allotted approximately $3100 monthly to live. This is all fine and dandy if Bastyr was in Bismark, North Dakota, but San Diego, yeah that might get me a spot under the bridge.

In all seriousness, I couldnโ€™t figure out how to make this work for me. Yes, you can get a roommate or four, but I am almost 33, and to be honest, that life is not for me anymore. After speaking to financial aid, I found out they have a โ€œrequest for additional aidโ€ form. With this form and supporting documentation, you can receive additional living funds. In my case, if my lease proved that my rent was over $1500, I would be eligible for additional aid. I laughed when I heard this because I donโ€™t think there is a bathroom available for rent at $1500 in San Diego.

My plan is to move by 9/1/23 to San Diego and at the time of my lease signing I will send my forms in requesting more financial coverage. My thought process with all of this is that I would rather pay after I am done with school than stress about the compounding average 26% interest rate on credit cards to live. Of course, this is a personal opinion but one that I have thought long and hard about. Other options are having the support of a spouse, the stability of a parent or family member, personal loans, or your own savings to accommodate expenses while in school. Much of my income has recently gone to purchasing my first home in Arizona and to my naturopathic doctor for GI issues and heavy metal poisoning. We all have our expenses and preferred way of life. The most important thing is to have this sorted out as best as possible before you are drowning in coursework.

Moreover, I have decided to lighten the load of my first quarter (26 credits) by taking summer classes. I came to this decision after speaking with a few students currently enrolled at Bastyr. It was very simple to go on the school website and book a call with a current student. I highly suggest this to anyone considering this route. Speak to multiple people from different programs and take everything with a grain of salt. Summer classes are currently offered fully virtual M-W starting 7/10/23 and finishing by 9/1/23. The two courses offered are Integrated Structure and Function (lecture + lab) plus Fundamentals of Research Design. In doing this, my fall quarter will be 16 credits, and the summer will be 10.5, the finest way of easing into life as a student again.

Classes are Monday through Wednesday, so I plan to work per-diem as a sonographer on two other days. Once I am full-time starting in the Fall, I have no desire to try and balance being a full-time student with work. However, this summer income, plus financial aid, will allow me to reach my savings goals and pay off my debt before moving to San Diego. Keep in mind that moving is anything but cheap. You are hearing from a woman who has worked at 21 medical facilities and lived all over the US. I think I have moved 5 times in the last 3 years. It is NOT CHEAP! My podcast Waves of Joy has plenty more on how to be financially savvy with a move.

Ultimately, this time in my life is crucial. The last thing I want is to be debilitated by money. Trust me when I say there is always a way. Who knows, higher education might be free by the time you read this! (haha) If I become president, you can bet it will be! Set attainable goals, create a budget, and ask a million questions to those who have been through this already. There are no dumb questions, and with that believe in yourself and your path.

The world needs you just as you are, keep shining, keep healing, and bring the joy!

๐’ฒ๐’พ๐“‰๐’ฝ ๐“๐‘œ๐“‹๐‘’ + ๐’ฝ๐‘’๐’ถ๐“๐’พ๐“ƒ๐‘”,



Shauna Dittl

Hey! I’m Shauna! Your daily dose of joy and sunshine. With over 10 years in the medical field as a Diagnostic Sonographer, 5 years as the CEO of my own certified personal training and nutrition coaching business, motivational podcaster, best selling author and future Naturopathic Physician, I’ve got what it takes to help you develop your own superhero muscles.