I'm 36 years old and work as systems administrator and lab instructor for a computer science department at a small liberal arts college. I'm also an adjunct math instructor for a community college. I have 1 BA and 2 masters, all from Ivy League Universities. I started college late, at the age of 25.
I always wanted to have a PhD in applied math and do research, but after undergrad, I felt burnt out and instead chose to work so I could pay off my student loans, which did not go well for me, because the economy was terrible in 2012. Two masters and several jobs later, I landed my current position, which I enjoy more than any other full-time job I've had, but would still rather be a full-time mathematics researcher/professor.
So I began applying to PhD programs last December. I was offered two TAships. I'll be attending the one I chose starting this Fall. It's at an R2 university. I'm excited but I'm now experiencing cold feet, because my current student loan balance is about $150K. I'm now beginning to think getting a PhD isn't such a smart idea. In fact, if I don't pursue a PhD, I could pay off $65,000 in about 3 years.
My plan prior to last December was to work at my current job for about 3 years and then find a full-time professor position at a community college or technical college, or to find a full-time lecturer position at a four-year college. I'm thinking I should forego the PhD and stick to this plan instead. Sure I won't be a researcher mathematician as I would love, but it's the smart and safe option. And maybe I can pursue a PhD once my loans are paid off. I'll probably be in my mid-40's by then, but who cares. I don't have kids and I'm not planning on having kids. My girlfriend of 6 years, who I'll probably marry, is unable to have kids anyway.
Any thoughts/advice? Thanks.