I intend to pursue my degree in Mathematics and Physics at Ecole Polytechnique in France. The institution has offered me an interest free loan of 18,000 euros, which has to be repaid three years after I complete my bachelor's degree.

Since I am passionate about basic sciences, I hope to join a five year PhD programme after my degree and this usually comes with a decent scholarship/stipend. Approximate salary for PhD scholars in Europe is about 1300 euros, though this might vary from institution. Right now, I am not sure whether this salary and the one received during Post-Doc might be enough for me to repay these loans and therefore, I wish seek advice on this matter from the Academia Stack Exchange community which, I believe, will be in a better position to answer this question since most members are pursuing a career in Academia.

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    If you graduate at École Polytechnique, you will be coming out with a Masters on top of the Bachelors degree. Are you sure that the date is 3 years after you obtain the BSc instead of 3 years after your graduation? By the way, check out the Paris Saclay and Jacques Hadamard Foundations scholarships for international students. – Marko Karbevski Jun 17 '17 at 13:02
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    I'm not sure how postdoc salaries fit in here, since it sounds like the loan will be due before you finish your PhD. Whether you can repay it out of your PhD salary would of course depend on how much money you spend on everything else (which in turn depends on the cost of living where you study, etc). So it's hard to answer for sure but in any case it sounds like it would be very difficult. Is there any possibility of refinancing the loan after three years? – Nate Eldredge Jun 17 '17 at 14:22
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    Have you checked with the Ecole Polytechnique if repayment for this loan would be deferred for people in graduate studies? – Alexander Woo Jun 17 '17 at 17:48
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    @Supermario: Ah, I misunderstood - I thought you meant you had to finish repaying the loan by three years after your bachelor's. If this gets reopened, or reposted somewhere else, please clarify that in the question. Also, by "refinance" I meant taking out a new loan to pay off the original one - so it wouldn't be described in the loan documents, it's more about what other loans might be available in your country. – Nate Eldredge Jun 18 '17 at 13:53
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    Please do not vandalize your posts. – EKons Nov 3 '17 at 18:23

Before answering whether you should take the loan you need to ask yourself some basic questions.

  1. Would I go to the school if there was no loan available?

  2. How would I pay for the school without the loan?

  3. Are you good at budgeting your money?

If you would not go to the school without the loan, the answer to the big question depends on why the loan influence's your decision. The answer is almost always that debt is bad. If you would go to the school without the loan, have a means of paying for school and are good at budgeting, then take the loan and put it in a secure investment. At the end of the 3 years, cash out the investment, pay off the loan and pocket the interest. If you are bad at budgeting, you want to be careful about taking on debt and the answer is almost always debt is bad.

  • Thank you for your answer! I don't think that it would be possible for me to attend this program without the loan unless my parents really stretch their pockets. The fact that the loan is interest free is what makes it a bit compelling for me to consider attending this college. Plus it has a great math program too. – user30558 Jun 19 '17 at 15:34