Things to Think About
There are many different ways to pay for your education; however, student loans are a reality for most medical students. The keys to successful repayment are careful planning and budgeting, learning how to effectively manage your debt, and educating yourself about the various repayment options.
Have a Plan
One of your first stops on the road to creating a sound financial plan should be the FIRST website. It contains extensive information about the cost of applying to medical school, information about various loan types, repayment information, and other financial topics. Even with these resources, the process can seem overwhelming, so your next step is to identify a financial aid administrator to assist you as you apply for medical school financing.
Get Good Advice
The importance of getting sound, accurate, and timely advice cannot be overstated. Whether it’s your pre-health advisor, a current medical student or resident, the admissions or financial aid officer, there are people who can help you navigate this often complex topic. Look at the medical school’s financial aid website to see school specific information about financing options. When visiting and interviewing at prospective schools, take your financial aid questions with you and speak with the financial aid administrator(s). They are there to help you, so take advantage of their assistance.
Learn About Loan Repayment/Forgiveness Options
There are many ways to fund your medical education and there are various programs to help you repay your student loans based on your financial situation. If you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine, but are concerned about paying back your loans, know that there are flexible repayment options for federal loans that are based on the borrower’s income – not the borrower’s debt. These repayment plans typically make loan payments manageable regardless of a physician’s debt or specialty choice.
Other opportunities for repayment and/or forgiveness may be found through service programs. These programs may provide repayment assistance in exchange for a service commitment. For more information about repayment/forgiveness options, visit the FIRST website.
Stay true to your passion. Explore your options. Find a good advisor and/or mentor. If you can, enter medical school with little or no credit card debt and be aware of the status of your undergraduate loans. The less debt you bring to medical school, the less debt you’ll have when you graduate from medical school.
- The median amount of debt for the class of 2020: $200,000*
- The median 4-year cost of attendance for the class of 2021: $259,347 (public school) and $346,955 (private school)
- Median non-education debt from credit cards: $5,000
With proper budgeting, even during residency, borrowers are often able to afford a student loan payment.
Medical school debt and cost may be high; however, so is the starting salary for the average primary care physician. Generally, a physician’s salary allows for a comfortable monthly budget if finances are managed wisely.
*Source: October 2020, Medical Student Education: Debt, Costs, and Loan Repayment Fact Card