Friday, July 11, 2014

Paying for Medical School (Loans, Loans, and More Loans!!!!)

GA-PCOM 2014-2015 Cost of Attendance Breakdown

Attending medical school is expensive! Sure there are public medical schools where the tuition can range from $10-20K per year, but if you’re not lucky enough to get an acceptance or be a resident of the states where these schools are located, you’ll be embarking on a very expensive journey. Most medical schools have tuition in the range of $25-50K, but there are quite a few that have tuition considerably way higher than this. When I was applying last cycle, I encountered a school where the tuition alone was over $80,000! So if you are reading this and planning on applying to medical school, please be aware of the financial commitment that you will be making.

One of the most common questions I get asked when people find out that I will be attending medical school is how I am going to pay for it. My response: loans, loans, and more loans! I do not come from a family that can afford to help pay for my medical education, and as a single parent, I have the added expense of caring for a young child. I also do not plan on working while I am in medical school, because working throughout my undergraduate years took away from time that I could have been focusing on my education. This is literally my last shot to achieve my dreams, and I do not want anything to get in the way of it. If I feel that I can manage school and work down the road, then things might change, but for the first year of school, I’ll be all in.

So to answer the question of paying for medical school, I have taken out subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, along with GradPlus loans to cover the rest. All of my loans are federal loans, and I strongly encourage everyone to avoid private loans at all costs! (I took out a few as an undergraduate, but I’ll save that rant for another post.) I have also applied for a few scholarships, but I won’t know the outcome until later on.

As you can see from the above picture, most schools factor in a “cost of living” that will allow you to take out loans for room and board, supplies, transportation, etc. Basically, once my loans have taken care of tuition and school costs, I will receive a refund each term that will be used to cover my living expenses. This means I will have to carefully budget each term for around three months at a time, but for me, the amount is doable. If you are a fellow non-traditional student with a large family, you will have to take into account what your living expenses will be, and contact the school to see if they can increase your cost of living.

In a nutshell, if you really want to become a physician, do not be discouraged by the price. Federal loans are readily available, and if you’re willing to write a few essays, there are scholarships as well. Thinking about repaying loans can be overwhelming, but there are also a ton of programs that can help you pay down your loans when you graduate and even some that offer loan forgiveness. Also, everyone who I have spoken with has assured me that paying off medical school loans is possible within ten years, but it may require frugal living for a while. If you’re like me, then medical school will probably be the biggest investment that you ever make in life, so I hope this post helped make the decision a little bit easier. 


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