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How Important is $ in deciding medical school?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Ceeej, May 1, 2012.

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  1. Ceeej

    Ceeej

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    So I have narrowed down my acceptances between a SUNY school and a private school in what I deem to be a better location. I know I will get a fine education at either of these schools but because I did my undergrad in a large city in CA, I am worried that I will feel 'stuck' at my state school and be unhappy. The tuition difference between the two schools I am deciding between is around 40,000. I am having a hard time weighing cheap price vs great location. I do not want to put a price on my happiness and I do think I will be satisfied with my in state education but I think my experience at the private school would be more unique and exciting. Does plunging this far into debt raise serious concerns or is everyone pretty confident in the ability to eventually pay it back..despite the added cost of interest?
  2. theseeker4

    theseeker4 MS 2

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    If I wasn't confident I would be able to pay my debt off after residency, I wouldn't be doing this at all. There is always a risk in taking huge amounts of debt on, of course. There is also the fact that you have to pay it back, and have to pay interest on every cent you borrow. Is the location of the private school really worth the 40k plus interest of extra debt that could add potentially years on to how long you need to pay off your debt? If your answer is yes, go for the more expensive school. If you aren't sure, well, you need to decide this one for yourself.
  3. Ismet

    Ismet Allons-y Alonso! Moderator

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    I recently received a 10K/year scholarship to one school, making it $40,000 cheaper than my top choice (Pitt). I'm going to Pitt, regardless of whether or not I get a scholarship to go there, because I love it there and it offers so many opportunities that the other school doesn't. I don't think saving $40,000 is enough to decide to go to a school where you will be unhappy. Yes it is a lot of money, but you WILL be able to pay it back. You just have to determine whether your fit at the private school is worth the $40K more.
  4. MedBound1

    MedBound1

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    Are we talking 40k over 4 years or 40k/year?
  5. Ismet

    Ismet Allons-y Alonso! Moderator

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    Ooh maybe I misread the OP. If it's a $160,000 difference, that's a different story...
  6. Ceeej

    Ceeej

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    sorry yeah that was unclear...40k a year
  7. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor

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    I'm not disagreeing with your sentiment, but this line of thinking is dangerous. Yes, you'll be able to pay back your loans, but at what cost? Keep in mind that your debt burden will impact your ability to do things like buy a car or buy a house. This isn't stuff you're thinking about now, but it likely will be 10 years down the line when you're still paying those loans.
  8. Druggernaut

    Druggernaut Lifetime Donor

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    This is a no brainer. Save yourself $160K plus interest and go to the cheaper school. No school is worth paying that much more.
  9. dblue10

    dblue10

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    I have to agree with this, and 160k over four years makes it really hard to justify attending another program...
  10. octupus

    octupus inside a lobster suit!

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    40K?! A YEAR? Unless I had parents/family commitments, no way I would choose that private school over SUNY based solely on personal preference of location. don't even need to think about it.
  11. theseeker4

    theseeker4 MS 2

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    Oh dang, never mind my response above, there is no way any location would be worth that much. Go to the cheaper option!
  12. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor

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    Terrible decision. By the time you've paid all that back you would've essentially paid for a modest house. That should give you some perspective.
  13. Ceeej

    Ceeej

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    ah sorry guys, i messed up the yearly vs semester price. it would actually be 24k a year now that i looked further into it. still a hefty sum, not sure if that changes any of your thoughts.
  14. Ismet

    Ismet Allons-y Alonso! Moderator

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    Debt from school loans isn't considered when getting loans for car/house/other large purchases. Doctors are also in the highest tier of consideration despite their high loans because they have the best chance of paying it back. I talked to an MS4 who was already $200K in debt from med school and undergrad, and he just got another loan for buying a house with no problem whatsoever. I'm sure it will take me a couple more years to pay off my loans than if I were to choose the school with the scholarship, but personally I think it is the right choice for me. If the difference were any more than 40-50k, I would probably seriously consider choosing the cheaper school.

    OP, save the $160,000 and go with the cheaper school. Sorry I misunderstood your post.
    EDIT: I'd still save the $96,000 and go with the cheaper school.
  15. MedBound1

    MedBound1

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    I have to agree.. 40k over 4 years is a weighted decision, 40k/year is a no-brainer.

    With the probable continued increase of the interest rates on education loans, 160k is going to turn into a monster number by the time you actually pay it off.
  16. RedSox10

    RedSox10

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    I agree. Go to the SUNY. I saw you posted elsewhere and you were choosing between Tulane and Loyola and SUNY Buffalo. I realize Buffalo might not be the most fun but its definitely worth the price, and we're not talking about Harvard here, pick the cheaper option.
  17. octupus

    octupus inside a lobster suit!

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    I didn't even apply to Buffalo because I knew I wouldn't want to be there location wise, so I can kind of see what you mean OP. I don't know though, I personally would pay a bit more to go to Tulane over Buffalo
  18. Crim1

    Crim1

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    To give you an idea of how this will affect you consider the following numbers.

    If you graduate with $200,000 in debt at a 6.8% interest rate, you will owe an additional $13,600 per year in interest alone.

    If you graduate with $300,000 in debt, that is $20,400 in interest alone per year.

    If you graduate with $400,000 in debt, that is $27,200 in interest alone per year.

    You will have to pay the interest every year plus more if you ever want to be out of debt. Suddenly your doctor salary becomes pretty underwhelming.

    You are talking about adding $24,000 per year to your debt or $96,000 total ($6,528 in interest per year on top of the rest). For what? You'll get the same degree. $100,000 is a LOT of money.

    Keep in mind the above assumes a 6.8% interest rate for all your debt, no doubt your graduate plus loans will have a higher rate. I don't know what your financial situation is, but at a certain point, debt becomes unmanageable even for a doctor. The "I'll pay it off eventually" attitude is dangerous, like Nick said.

    Weigh the variables, make a decision and accept the consequences. You will carry the burden of your choice 10, 15, 20+ years down the road. What's a private school in a fancy city worth to you? In my personal opinion, the only real difference is aesthetics.
  19. theseeker4

    theseeker4 MS 2

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    No, still a no-brainer, go to the less expensive school, no debate.
  20. NickNaylor

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    I don't know where you're living, but my school loans are most certainly a part of my credit report and therefore my credit score and therefore my ability to acquire credit. Your anecdotal examples may be true, that doesn't lessen the importance of my point. Rationalizing a ridiculous amount of debt by saying "you'll make a lot later" really isn't smart. I'm not saying you should always choosr cheaper options, but that excuse is a terrible one.
  21. mduck

    mduck

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    So then where is the line drawn? As in, how much more debt would you guys be willing incur in order to attend either a school where you believe you'd be happiest? Or better yet, regardless of one's reasoning (i.e. whether happiness, prestige, established vs. new school, etc.), what amount of money justifies choosing one school over another?

    P.S. My asking this is not to start a huge debate; rather, I'm hoping to get some unbiased advice regarding my own situation.
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
  22. Ismet

    Ismet Allons-y Alonso! Moderator

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    It only negatively affects your credit if you don't pay your monthly repayment.

    Bottom line, it's a decision to be made based on financial history and a lot of other factors that vary from individual to individual. If OP's parents were millionaires and were willing to help pay, the $96k difference would not seem so vast. My rationalization was not simply "it doesn't matter where you go because you'll make enough to pay it off." A 100K or 160K difference would absolutely change my tune. A 40k difference could go either way. I have almost no debt from undergrad due to scholarships, and although I am completely responsible for my med school loan repayment, I know that my family will help me out if I am really struggling and just can't make ends meet. I know that other people don't have that to fall back on, and for those I would probably advise differently. This is why it's not a cut and dry decision and varies by individual. I have two older siblings who went through college, one through grad school, so my decision is not an uninformed one. I'm not clueless and I know that 40k+interest is a lot of money, but when I'm looking at a school that I know will make me happier, has more opportunities, an excellent match list, etc, but happens to be more expensive, my family and I agree on the more expensive school.
  23. armybound

    armybound future urologist. Moderator Emeritus

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    this.
  24. theseeker4

    theseeker4 MS 2

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    Depends on what your situation is. It also depends on your personal value of the school's reputation, location, prestige, etc. Personally, my first choice was my first choice because it was the closest school to my house. It also happens to be a good school with significant linkage to the local hospitals and well-established. If it were a lot more expensive than a theoretical brand-new school an equal commute away (or at least close enough I wouldn't want to move) I might have chosen the brand new school.

    Depends on a lot of things that no one else can answer. If you tell us your situation, we could give advice, but other than that...
  25. Whiskeypunch

    Whiskeypunch

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    If IBR and PSLF work out it's all monopoly money anyway....

    That's a big "if" though :scared:
  26. Osakhomen

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    Like the others have said, take the cheaper school. I had a similar decision to make; I had the choice between my alma mater, Tulane and a Texas med school and I picked the Texas med school... I'm already about 100k in debt from going to Tulane undergrad, and I would not go back to Tulane, unless I had no other choice. New Orleans and Tulane are awesome, but I have to be practical... over 100k difference is just too much to take on IMO when it in the end of it all you'll be a well respected MD regardless of where you went.
  27. NickNaylor

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    That's fine and good - my intent was not to attack your decision, and I didn't. What I was attacking was your (and many other users') advice to worry about debt because "you'll make enough" - which you DID say/appear to imply initially. Your approach is exactly right - the share of debt that should be considered is one factor among many that may or may not be important to each individual. That's why I cringe when I see people say "yes it is a lot of money, but you WILL be able to pay it back" (your words) in response to a question about cost. Yes, that's an objective fact that's true, but it implies something that many will take as support to go wherever they "fit" best or are "happiest" regardless of cost. That isn't always the best decision, and that's what I was trying to counter.
  28. shbecs

    shbecs

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    Interest is capitalized monthly, so the OP will actually be owing more than what you calculated on both the principal and future interest assuming the OP will be deferring interest payments during school.
  29. BeanDip4All

    BeanDip4All emt-abcdefgh

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    - you're going to be miserable in school working your arse off anyways at EITHER location, so you might as well be miserable working your ass off in a cheap location

    - see above. you'll be too busy studying to enjoy your city urban metropolitan swankstyle anyways. Rationalize the cost effective choice by saying you'd rather be somewhere boring in the middle of nowhere because you'll study more, have less fabulosity going on to distract and plus be motivated to work harder so you can match somewhere in a kewl city.

    btw, my nickname is Ceej. Nice username :D

    GL whereever you choose. Cheers.
  30. scarletgirl777

    scarletgirl777

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    This is not true. Your total amount of debt is taken into account when calculating your credit score. If you don't make your minimum payments that's definitely a strike, but even if you do, having any kind of debt knocks off points. This is the reason why it's best to pay off your credit cards in full every month instead of just the minimum payment. Obviously student loans are a lot safer debt, but you see the parallel. The fact that your friend of a friend was able to get a home loan does not negate this point. As we have seen with our recent financial crisis, banks are very happy to give loans even to people who can never pay them back, and so of course they would give loans to a doctor. However, this does not change the fact that your total disposable income to do things like by homes and cars and college tuition for your kids is decreased with debt--moreover, people with lower credit scores often get higher interest rates and deals with more penalties, so having debt just begets more debt.
  31. unbiasee

    unbiasee

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    I am in a similar situation as the OP: I was pulled off a waitlist and now have a hard decision between two schools: A mid-west private school and an out-of-state public school.

    I have never lived outside of California but I know I want to stay in the west coast. The public school is in a nearby western state. I know I want to go to the public out-of-state school, but tuition alone will cost ~$15K more per year than the private mid-west school (paying OOS tuition versus a small scholarship at the private school). Add in a higher cost of living for the west coast and the overall cost goes even higher...

    public and out-of-state western school: "Money isn't everything". No one can pay you enough to be miserable. Go where you will be happy because either way you will have a lot of debt. When you get past $200K (which I expect I will), how much of a difference will $60K make? As a state school it has more of a focus on primary care, which is what I am leaning towards. And a regional bias could help me land a residency on the west coast.

    private mid-west school: "Pain is temporary" I don't want to move to this cold industrial city, but it will only be for 4 years and I'll get the same education. The match lists shows that more students specialize and go to prestigious residencies. That's not what I want, but it is a nice option to have in case I change my mind. The $60-75K less in debt will make my life post-medical school easier

    Then comes the fact that medical school might keep me so busy that I can't enjoy my time in the western state school anyways. Or I find out living in the MidWest is fine after all. I might end up indoors studying all the time at either school and either way I am going to be far from home (albeit the western school is obviously much closer to California). Both are good schools, so should I go the cheaper option or the school my heart is set on?

    Both schools are closely ranked in research and are well known programs within their respective regions, but neither are top-20

    I know I must decide for myself, but I am looking for some unbiased advice and guidance (my parents tell me to be fiscally responsible and my SO tells me to follow my heart).
  32. Aerus

    Aerus Ace Operator

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    DEFINITELY the cheaper school. Med school is going to be time consuming, no matter where you are, so you might not have too many opportunities to take advantage of that "good location". Just go to the SUNY, get it out of the way, and you'll be enjoying 96k+interest less debt. =)
  33. cowme

    cowme ACFAS Member

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    Unless your parents are willing to cover a sizeable amount of that tuition, I say no way in hell. I assume this "better location" is also a much more expensive location, so that will also increase your loans significantly.
  34. Jemeni

    Jemeni

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    NickNaylor is speaking some very wise words here. I cringe when I hear people dismissing massive amounts of debt in the future.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd take the cheaper school in a heartbeat. The debt difference in this case is too big to overlook.
  35. RedSox10

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    Med school isn't like law school or business school were its a waste of money if you dont go to a top 10. You can be successful at any US MD school. We have no clue where healthcare reimbursements are headed and you are much better off choosing the cheapest possible option now. $160,000 over four years actually means twice that after the course of the loan. You basically will be paying the cost of a house to go to the "better" location for four years. This is outrageous. Save your money, work hard and get a residency in a city of your choice. Med school is only four years, studying will take up the majority of your time, you can always travel to "better" cities, or do "away" rotations at cities/schools of your choice.
  36. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness

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    I wouldn't want my finances to significantly influence my choice of career. His much debt that implies is an arbitrary and personally number but I would say anything much over 50k
    .of.extra debt (12.5k per year) would be an pain if you decide you love something low paying like path or peds. Of course the relative qualities of the two schools and the reason you think you'll be happier at the more expensive one also play into this decision. If you were going to a more expensive school to stay near your spouses job that's obviously worth more debt than goin to the more expensive school because of a vague sense that the city or school is nicer.
  37. MedPR

    MedPR

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  38. Revolver1045

    Revolver1045

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    Is it possible that the more expensive school may lead to getting better residencies and possibly better paying jobs?
  39. gettheleadout

    gettheleadout Useless B.A. Inbound Moderator

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    Extremely unlikely. Med school reputation is already a less-important factor in matching, becoming more significant for academic residencies, and academic careers (post-residency) actually pay less...
  40. MedPR

    MedPR

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    That's not actually true. While your loans and loan amounts are on your reports, only your pay history affects your score; the amount you have in loans is not calculated into your FICO score.

    So in terms of things like auto loan/home loan rates where your score is significant determining factor (e.g 720+ gets one rate, 701-719 another) the amount you have in student loans likely won't affect you unless you have a bad pay history.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2012
  41. thesauce

    thesauce Senior Member

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    High-end (high-paying) private practices often recruit from prestigious academic residencies. It will never hurt you to go to a top academic residency.

    However, I agree that going to a more expensive school is unlikely to make much of a difference in your residency application.
  42. gettheleadout

    gettheleadout Useless B.A. Inbound Moderator

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    That makes sense, I guess I just figured top academic residencies would be looking for candidates aiming and prepared for academic careers. I realize some people planning to do PP are equally if not more qualified, but I would expect them to be the minority. In any case, I defer to you on any and all points.
  43. thesauce

    thesauce Senior Member

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    That is generally the case, yes. However, people have been known to have a change of heart when offered big money and a great lifestyle.
  44. Narmerguy

    Narmerguy Member Moderator

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    While I agree with NickNaylor, I think people shouldn't get too carried away with his message. It's not an inappropriate response at all to point out that, yes, you will fully be able to pay for the debt. While that doesn't mean spend to your heart's content, it also sets the "floor" for what you can expect: there is no school for which you will not ultimately be able to pay off.

    If someone doesn't have the brains to figure out that spending 200K on school loans is 200K that can't be spent elsewhere (and that loans grow over time), that's not really an indication that the advice is bad so much as the individual receiving it is stupid. By all means, let's remind people of this obvious fact anyway, but let's also not act like it's somehow ludicrous to consider paying more money for a particular school with the knowledge that you can pay for it if you want.
  45. plumhill

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    OP, ask yourself this. For THAT much extra money at this pricier school, what will you be getting that you absolutely, without a doubt, cannot get at the SUNY school? And of the things that you absolutely, without a doubt, cannot get at the SUNY school, which of those will actually affect your ability to get into the residency program of your choice post-graduation, or in any way severely hinder your career?

    If there is anything at your pricier school that you can ONLY get at this pricier school, and if it will GREATLY improve your career chances post-graduation, then the money MIGHT be worth it. Otherwise, you need to ask yourself if the the "unique and exciting" aspects of the other school are actually important down the road. Now isn't the time to be extravagant. Now is the time to be practical and get your career started.
  46. DrZaiusDrZaius

    DrZaiusDrZaius

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    Go to the school that will save you almost six figures. That is an absolute no brainer. Seriously, I don't care if the more expensive school is Harvard, it is 100% not worth it.

    Also keep in mind that you will most likely NOT be receiving subsidized loans for that full amount so interest will be accumulating on your loans throughout medical school and residency (5-6.8% for federal loans and more for private loans) making your grand total much more than 96k. There are calculators online that can give you a pretty precise estimate of how your interest will capitalize over 8-12 years. Here's a good one: http://www.finaid.org/calculators/interestcap.phtml

    Your life and your choices post-med school will be SO much less stressful if you aren't yoked to an enormous debt. As someone who turned down a school that at one time sat higher in my affections for one that has offered me substantially more $$$ I can assure you that I'm already sleeping better at night.
  47. Ironmandoc

    Ironmandoc

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    Actually there are no subsidized federal loans anymore...

    The OP posted this in November. Since that cycle is over, why is anyone even having this debate.
  48. jesse120

    jesse120 Zanarkand Ruins

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    Am I missing something? The time stamp on the OP is May 1st 2012
  49. gettheleadout

    gettheleadout Useless B.A. Inbound Moderator

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    Messages:
    10,396
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    I neither find that surprising nor blame them, honestly.
  50. semicharmed

    semicharmed Insight-Attempter

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2012
    Messages:
    133
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I agree. I think SDN might go a little too far with the "CHOOSE THE CHEAPEST POSSIBLE SCHOOL" mentality. I think you should go to the place that will make you the best physician (vaguity intended); a setting where you will have diverse options to match your evolving residency interests, a curriculum that matches your learning style (people on SDN say that every school teaches the same way, that "everyone uses the same powerpoints": this is ridiculous), and a financial picture that won't excessively limit your future opportunities.

    After finishing the above rant, I now see the 40k per year difference...I think that's too much, unless it's an insane difference in "educational quality." If all you're worried about is leaving home, I'd say take a plunge and head for the cheaper option this time. Once you get surrounded by all your fellow excited students, they'll make an intimate climate that will feel like a new home (did you go to second look? Are the other students friendly? This is something that mattered a lot more to me than geographical location). Everyone has to leave sometime bud. If you think it'll cause you INCREDIBLE anxiety, then stay. Happiness is priceless, and 4 years of your life is a long time.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2012

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