On average, master’s degree holders make $17,000 more than those who’ve earned a bachelor’s degree alone. Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, you may contemplate turning to a master’s degree next. However, if you’re still owing on your undergrad loans, the added debt may not be the right choice. There are a few things to consider.

Here at IonTution, we provide student loan benefit programs for employers who wish to aid their staff in paying off student loans. We understand how large the burden your loans can be. If you are questioning whether or not you should pursue another degree, check out these tips on making this big decision.

Five Considerations When Considering Pursuing a Master’s Degree

Before you enroll in another college, take the following five things into consideration.

Consideration #1: What is your goal?

What’s your goal is in attaining another degree? This question is important because the answer will reveal a lot about its usefulness. For example, if you want to get a master’s degree simply because you wish to hold a higher degree, it probably won’t be worth the money invested. If, however, you need the degree in order to advance in a particular vocation, the debt makes a lot more sense.

Understanding your goal helps you pause and consider whether or not investing more money is worthwhile. Dig deep in your reasoning and be sure that there is a valid reason for moving forward. If you are simply biding your time because you don’t know what else to do or you are in love with academics and don’t want to enter the world of work yet, take pause. This reasoning could land you in a world of debt, with little hope of repaying it. Make sure the goal behind the degree is worth every penny it will cost.

Consideration #2: What is the realistic future of your career path?

If your goal is valid, take the time to think about the future path of your career. In some situations, getting a master’s degree will limit you more than help you. For example, if you have little work experience. In this case, obtaining a master’s degree in a broad category, such as business, might limit you. You’ll hold a high level of education that signals to future employers the need for a higher salary than an entry-level job will pay. However, you won’t have the experience worthy of an upper-level role in a company. You can find yourself in a giant catch-22.

Conversely, someone who is currently a vet tech but wants to become a veterinarian will need to pursue further education to do so. In this case, pursuing a degree would make sense. A graduate would have both the education and work experience as a vet tech to support their career move to become a veterinarian.

Consideration #3: Will your employer help pay for your master’s degree?

Another consideration to factor in is whether or not your employer will help you in your pursuit of higher level of education. Many employers participate in our program at IonTuition, allowing for assistance with student loan repayment. If your employer offers this program or a similar one, you’ll be less likely to bury yourself in debt if you go back to school.

Many employers will also invest in your master’s degree if it is going to help advance your career with them. Perhaps you will be able to learn valuable skills through a relevant degree program that will translate to improved profits for your company. Finding an employer that will help you out makes investing in another degree a less risky venture.

Consideration #4: How sure are you of the direction you are heading?

If you just finished your undergraduate degree and have only spent a few months in your new career, re-consider jumping right into a master’s program. Oftentimes, the career we think we want to spend our lives focused on turns out to be the wrong fit entirely. If you aren’t 100 percent certain about what you want to do for the rest of your life, hold off. It is better to spend a year in the field and determining whether or not you love it before diving headfirst into another degree. Experience in the field prior to graduate education will also help you stand out in the talent pool post-grad.

On the other hand, if you’re passionate about a future in your chosen career path, then a master’s degree can help you unlock better positions. This is particularly true in vocations where higher levels of education allow you access to more job opportunities. Examples of vocations where a master’s degree helps further your career include those in medicine, science, and other technical work.

Consideration #5: What do you need to prioritize?

Finally, you have to stop to consider what your priorities are. Pursuing a master’s degree can be a great choice, but it costs a significant amount of time and money. If you are raising a family or in the middle of other major life responsibilities, you need to think hard before enrolling in school again. That is not to say that it is impossible or too late to pursue a higher level of education when you already have bigger responsibilities on your plate. It is just a caution that what lies ahead will be a massive undertaking that will require sacrifice and dedication. Be sure that you can prioritize what you need while still reaching your personal goals.

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer to whether or not you should pursue another degree while you are still in debt from the first one. It is extremely case specific, which is why taking the time to think through the decision thoroughly is a must. The bottom line is to ensure that your investment will provide you with the best return possible as you face future student loan repayment.