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Affording Med school

Discussion in 'Financial Aid' started by Evil J, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. Evil J

    Evil J Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 23, 2001
    I am a 29 yr-old male (married with children). I am not in the best financial shape. I was laid off from my CAD Operations Manager position over 8 months ago, (due to the lack of work in the telecom field), and cannot find another technical job to save my life.
    I have decided to go back to school and get into the medical field. I have been volunteering at the local hospital and am doing very well with my grades.
    My main problems are:
    1) I do not have GREAT credit
    2) I do not have a huge savings
    3) I do NOT come from wealth in any way

    I know that I can clean up my credit and that I can get a job doing just about anything, so those aren?t life threatening.
    My question is: How can I afford to go to school? I want, more than anything to be a doctor, and I do not think getting accepted is going to be a major problem. I am truly afraid that, because of my financial situation, I will not be able to attend. Has anyone in here overcome these ailments & gone on to med school, in spite?
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  3. squeek

    squeek Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    My situation isn't exactly like yours, but I am a medical student married to a graduate student. Our total annual income is about $15,000--mostly from his graduate stipend, so you can see that we're operating with very little money (and we live in NYC). Also, my family is not paying for medical school, although they have good income, so I don't get any grants.

    The answer to "how to pay" is simple: you borrow. If you clean up your credit, you shouldn't have any problems, and even if you don't, rumor has it that the US government is pretty lenient when it comes to student loans. The maximum amount you can borrow per year for med school is $38,000.

    Also, if you have demonstrable need, there's a chance you'll get grants from your school.

    If you really want to do medicine, you'll find a way. There are several students at my school who have children and the wife is a stay-at-home mom, and they're doing fine.

    In addition, I think that your goal to work on your credit is a great one. In the event you need more money than the government gives, you'll have to go to private loans, which are much more stringent as far as credit rating. Also, paying off all of your debt prior to medical school is a very smart thing, because the debt only gets bigger when you get in (and you continue to accrue interest on old debt). My husband and I paid off all of our undergradute debt prior to going to med/grad school, and I am so grateful that we don't have that additional burden on our shoulders.

    Good luck!
  4. analu

    analu Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Mar 6, 2002
    squeek talks about old debt continuing to accrue interest...assuming that med students can't hold even part-time jobs, how do they continue to make payments on their consumer debt, i.e. credit cards, personal loans? I'm doing the best I can to pay down my outstanding debt, how do I do this when in med school and unemployed? :confused:
  5. Sugar72

    Sugar72 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 22, 2001
    Check out Consumer Credit Counseling or some other consumer debt organizations. They really can make deals with credit card companies and banks for lower payments. I joined one in 1998 with a very big amount of debt and they reduced my interest rates and my monthly payments. I know I sound like one of those commercials, but they really can help out. It goes on your credit report, but it has not hurt my credit rating at all. The only debt they can negotiate is unsecured no car payments or mortgages.
    Good Luck!
  6. ewells

    ewells Big Daddy 7+ Year Member

    This is actually K's mom......
    Be careful about the consumer credit agencies. A few years ago (such as 1998), when there were only two or three companies, it was much more reliable. However, in the past few years, the number of "credit counseling" agencies has skyrocketed. Most are not "counselors" at all. If you want "counseling", go to a financial planner. I love Primerica (costs nothing!) and they focus on long term goals and retirement.
    HOwever, if you still think one of the "counseling" companies is for you, take the decision seriously! Most of the newer companies are not "Friends" with your creditors. On the contrary, they can be exceptionally confrontational, and force the company to do what they want. End result: don't even think of ever getting a loan or credit card from them again. Also, these companies usually charge a percentage fee, and you have to pay THEM...then they pay your creditor. There is currently a class-action lawsuit against one (or more) of these companies because they took payment from a client, but never forwarded the money to the creditors. Many of the "victims" were forced to declare bankruptcy. (Check the website for National Public Radio...Evening Edition did a story on this about two weeks ago).
    Also, sometimes the agreement between the company and your creditor is to lower the interest rate for extending the pay back period. The longer payment schedule, coupled with the fee they charge, can end up costing you more in the long run.
    Just a thought.
  7. analu

    analu Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Mar 6, 2002
    Even if I could consolidate my unsecured debt and reduce monthly payments...there still would be payments to be made! Looked at a prospective student budget from my first choice (yea, I'm still waiting :( )and makes no mention of helping with such debt. Am I missing something, i.e. can I borrow extra to cover monthly consumer debt costs (not car or mortgage)? Thanks in advance for any further thoughts.
  8. squeek

    squeek Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    I don't know how much luck you are going to have in getting "extra" money to cover unsecured debt. My school specifically states that they do not accomodate the need to borrow this type of money.

    To be honest (and I'm not a financial aid person, so you'd be best to talk to a professional), I'd recommend deferring a year in order to pay off your unsecured debt. OR try talking to your parents to work something out. But that 16% or so a year that you pay (or accrue) on a credit card is crippling, and it will be very difficult for you to manage it during school. Compound that with the $40K you borrow every year for school, and you have a nightmare. Most residents don't make enough to pay anything but interest on their loans, much less paying off unsecured debt that's been accruing for four years.

    I'm sorry to give such a dour perspective, and I really hope everything works out for you!
  9. electra

    electra SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2001
    I agree with sqeek. You will need to wait and do everything you can to clean up your credit. The last thing you want is to get in and then not be able to finish for lack of credit (and that CAN happen). Also, remember that the application process and interviewing is expensive, and you will want to be able to pay for that and not add it to your debts.
  10. sandflea

    sandflea Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 23, 2001
    i agree too. paying off your current consumer debt is probably the number one thing you need to do, financially, before you start school and will no longer be employed. you could probably find private loans (like through your bank) to add to what you will get from the government or from your school, but it really makes no sense for you to use borrowed money to pay off your debt--that's not solving the problem. if your debt is really that substantial, then you might consider deferring. that debt is only going to grow while you are in school, and coupled with your school loans, you could be in some serious trouble later down the road.
  11. analu

    analu Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Mar 6, 2002
    squeek, electra, sandflea...thanks for the encouragement. Now if I can only get off the waitlist merry-go-round...

  12. Jade

    Jade New Member

    Apr 23, 2002
    San Diego
    First off, if your burning passion is to become a doctor, keep that as your intention and don't let the money get in the way.

    I am beginning medical school in the fall, and I have had to do some work on cleaning up my credit. What a lesson that is. Personally, I negotiated with the lenders myself, and settled on a payoff amount. This does not give you stellar credit, but you also are not stuck with
    soaring interest rates, or outstanding debt. I think it can be an intimidating process, and information is power. It is good to a copy of your credit report, and talk with a credit counseling group to get more information. Or this is what I found helpful for myself.

    Good luck, and don't give up on your dream!!

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