Family of three... Can I get through Med school on financial aid alone?

aw1090

7+ Year Member
Apr 24, 2012
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Medical Student
I'm a long time follower, but haven't posted much on this site so here it goes. I've got a wife and daughter. My wife and I both grew up poor and now have no support from family at all neither financial nor emotional. I'm just wondering if this is possible. I got through the first year of school, but we barely scraped by saving on every little thing possible. I got my aid refund for the 2nd year and it's less than I got for the 1st year by a significant amount. After looking at our budget, I'm not sure what to do. Why is my Cost of attendance, which includes living expenses, not more than a single guy with no family? We'll be $6K short at the end of this school year and that doesn't include any sort of Step 1 review material. Some of the things we've thought of and ruled out:

1. She could work as she stays at home now with our daughter - She has little education and there aren't many jobs out there. We're concerned, she wouldn't make enough to cover childcare costs. The idea of her staying home is also nice because we've already seen the benefits with our daughter, 10 months ahead.

2. I could join the military - I tried this and due to some health problems it seemed as though I was ineligible.

3. Ask the school for additional money - I thought this would be the easiest, but it's like pulling teeth. They don't seem to care that I won't get through school and that I'm borrowing the money. I explained and discussed it over and over with them without success.

4. We've tried online jobs, surveys and such without much return and I've sold almost everything I have.

I'd really like any advice and opinions on the matter. Is it really possible to make it through Med. school as a typical, nontraditional student? Is the financial aid set only in favor of younger, single individuals? Thank you!
 

DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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Have you looked into scholarships? There are tons out there. Tens of thousands of dollars. The Tylenol Scholarship, for instance. Google is your friend. I'm just a post-bac pre-med and it is a real pity I've only come across 1 (yes, one) scholarship of $250 for pre-health ...there are plenty of threads on here with more knowledgable people who are med students and have been there and done that. I think 10% get accepted to the program I listed, but again, it's always best to do your own research.
 
Jan 8, 2015
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I'm not in med school yet so this could he terrible advice- can you take out an extra private loan (not through school) towards the end of the year and then pay it back when you get your aid money for third year? The interest would be negligible (because you'd pay it back within a year) but it would help with the cash flow somewhat.
 
Jan 8, 2015
149
97
Oh and also, one additional idea. Do you identify with an organized religion? For example, there are some organizations (many are usually just local) that will give grant/low interest loans to members of a certain faith.
 

sb247

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There are a few blogs of people that made it with the whole family just living on loans. But you will get the full "cost of living" as calculated by the school for a single student....no increases for being married. At my school that's mid 20ks. I your wife works (and she will likely need to) the cost of childcare is a federally allowable increase to the amount of loans offered.

Also, not sure when you looked at the military.....but frankly there are a lot more exceptions for medical professionals. Go read theough the military section on this site and google "hpsp military" (active duty) and "mdssp national guard).

Both give $2k/month above loans and the active duty version pays tuition
 
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Darth Doc

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Jun 22, 2013
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If your wife gets a job in childcare - whether she works at a facility or starts taking care of children out of your home, childcare is free for your child.

$6000 short = about $100 take home a week for your wife. If you have a friend or family member who can help out with babysitting one day a week, she could make that cleaning houses on the side.

Keep talking to people in your community and find out what's available.
 
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futuremdforme

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May 12, 2013
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If your wife gets a job in childcare - whether she works at a facility or starts taking care of children out of your home, childcare is free for your child.

$6000 short = about $100 take home a week for your wife. If you have a friend or family member who can help out with babysitting one day a week, she could make that cleaning houses on the side.

Keep talking to people in your community and find out what's available.
That's a good idea.

Before you look into the military, consider the implications it will have on your family. Not everyone is okay with being a military spouse but some people are.
 

ChrisMack390

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Jan 15, 2015
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The military option is generally recommended to people who would have joined the military anyway, or at least have some level of pre-existing interest. It is generally NOT recommended for those who need a way to pay for med school and were not interested in the military before.
 
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aw1090

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Apr 24, 2012
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Thanks everyone.. I appreciate all the support. I'll take another look at the military and see what they have to offer. Scholarships are great, but they only replace the loans I'm taking out so once you hit the COA, they cut off so it would increase the money we have to live on. Private education loans work the same way and total private loans you have to have credit and an income for them to consider it.
 

Darth Doc

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I'll take another look at the military and see what they have to offer.
Feel free to PM me with specifics on your health questions and the military. I'm in the guard and am working on getting that monthly stipend myself. I have access to the regulations and some knowledge about exceptions that might help you out.
 

Bru

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Jan 27, 2011
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Have you examined various state/fed assistance programs as a way to reduce costs? I get my insurance through Medicaid and saves me several thousand a year. You may also qualify for SNAP or WIC.

Kind of surprised and disappointed that your school isn't being more helpful.
 

DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

Pink Panther & Hope Diamond
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jobs for the wife:

Stay-at-home jobs:

www.psychicelements.com (It's the best paying one I've come across $1.75/min - I made $192.00 in one day once)
www.fancyhands.com - stay-at-home personal assistant gig - I made $99 once
www.zirtual.com - another virtual assistant gig

Depending on where you live, you might be able to put your wife through a free job training situation through something like this program:
http://jvschicago.org/pharmacy-technician-training/

Look into your state's workforce development department they usually have many free/low-cost opportunities for something like that.

I just got hired at a private ambulance company as an EMT-trainee (you only need a hs diploma to be an EMT) for $300 - the company is paying for the training and hiring me at the end. Your wife could do something like that.

Also of note: childcare, waitressing, bartending, retail, babysitting, city tour guides, coffeeshops, fast food, housekeeping/maid service

GL
 

sazerac

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Feb 26, 2012
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If your wife gets a job in childcare - whether she works at a facility or starts taking care of children out of your home, childcare is free for your child.

$6000 short = about $100 take home a week for your wife. If you have a friend or family member who can help out with babysitting one day a week, she could make that cleaning houses on the side.

Keep talking to people in your community and find out what's available.
Darth gets it. When the cost of childcare >= income from job, and your only skill is childcare, then you become professional childcare and make more money doing what you will be doing anyway.
 
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BeMD13

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Dec 31, 2012
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If your wife gets a job in childcare - whether she works at a facility or starts taking care of children out of your home, childcare is free for your child.

$6000 short = about $100 take home a week for your wife. If you have a friend or family member who can help out with babysitting one day a week, she could make that cleaning houses on the side.

Keep talking to people in your community and find out what's available.
This is what my next door neighbor does. She works at KinderCare and takes her daughter with her for free. She doesn't have a college degree and she had no problem getting hired. Another friend of mine works as a private nanny. She was able to bring her daughter with her every day until she started kindergarten.
 

mybubbles627

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May 10, 2011
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Usually there are other medical students who have children and childcare is expensive. Consider your wife babysitting their children and getting paid for it while watching your daughter s well.
 

NontradICUdoc

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I went through medical school with a wife and 3 kids (4 at the end). The loans that you are getting are meant to support you and not your wife. However, if you send a letter to the school and discuss the need for child care so that your wife can work, they usually add that to your cost of living and your child care will be covered.

You need to do your homework and apply for scholarships. In addition, there are private loans out there. I know that they advise against it, but you have to do what you have to do. I would spend time during very boring lectures and look for scholarships. There is a scholarship for everyone.

http://www.tylenol.com/news/scholarship
http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/our-people/member-groups-sections/medical-student-section/opportunities/grants-awards-scholarships.page
http://www.finaid.org/scholarships/other.phtml
http://www.fastweb.com/

Find out from your local power company about programs to reduce your cost, same with housing, same with insurance. With these programs, since I paid into them while I was working before medical school, I saved about $15,000 per year.

I would advise against any primary care loans while you are still in your pre-clinical years because if you decide not to go into primary care, the fines are hefty. But if you are interested, then ther is the national health service corps. Either way, your wife needs to work to help with the finances. And by adding child care to your cost of living, your loans will increase and you will be able to get the child care and your wife can work.

If you have specifics you want to know, just PM me.
 
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Aug 10, 2013
36
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Pre-Medical
I'm not sure what your financial situation was before medical school, but if you have a few credit cards you may be able to delay the problem until you come up with a solution. For example, if you have two high available balance credit cards, you may be able to max one and then do a balance transfer to the other. If you have special offers, you could get 0% interest for 18 months (my cards offer me this every couple of months). The main downside of this is you have to come up with a solution before the 18 months or you are hit with some pretty heavy interest.
 

andrek82

7+ Year Member
May 11, 2012
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87
New York
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I'm a long time follower, but haven't posted much on this site so here it goes. I've got a wife and daughter. My wife and I both grew up poor and now have no support from family at all neither financial nor emotional. I'm just wondering if this is possible. I got through the first year of school, but we barely scraped by saving on every little thing possible. I got my aid refund for the 2nd year and it's less than I got for the 1st year by a significant amount. After looking at our budget, I'm not sure what to do. Why is my Cost of attendance, which includes living expenses, not more than a single guy with no family? We'll be $6K short at the end of this school year and that doesn't include any sort of Step 1 review material. Some of the things we've thought of and ruled out:

1. She could work as she stays at home now with our daughter - She has little education and there aren't many jobs out there. We're concerned, she wouldn't make enough to cover childcare costs. The idea of her staying home is also nice because we've already seen the benefits with our daughter, 10 months ahead.

2. I could join the military - I tried this and due to some health problems it seemed as though I was ineligible.

3. Ask the school for additional money - I thought this would be the easiest, but it's like pulling teeth. They don't seem to care that I won't get through school and that I'm borrowing the money. I explained and discussed it over and over with them without success.

4. We've tried online jobs, surveys and such without much return and I've sold almost everything I have.

I'd really like any advice and opinions on the matter. Is it really possible to make it through Med. school as a typical, nontraditional student? Is the financial aid set only in favor of younger, single individuals? Thank you!
Like you, I have had no financial support from family. I am in my 4th year as a non-traditional with 2 kids. They both have special needs so my wife is limited to home - the differential for childcare is too much. My own advice is strictly what worked for me. We got Medicaid to cover ridiculous insurance costs, WIC when the boys were younger, and food stamps now. Being on the track you are on means you will deal with all the preconceptions on those issues from inside and outside the medical community, but what you are doing now secures the future. The welfare/state office is awful, but worth it in my view.
 

Fowlzr

2+ Year Member
Sep 9, 2015
5
0
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Pre-Medical
I have been spending a great amount of time looking into this myself. I have my G.I. Bill that I have not started to use yet, so that will cover tuition and rent for a place to live, but I planned to use grants and federal loans first, and then get a private loan just in case we need it for anything, such as covering the housing allowance gap in between semesters with the GI Bill. There are plenty of resources out there. I am not too familiar with scholarships yet, but start by going through FAFSA and see what grants/loans you qualify for.

As far as joining the military, do not think that medical conditions will prevent you from enlisting/commissioning. There are waivers for those sorts of things. You have two main options if you join the military which mostly deal with the Navy.

1. HSCP- Health service collegiate program. You will be ENLISTED as an E-6. You will get E-6 base pay, substance allowance (food), BAH rate for the zip code of your school, AND no cost medical insurance. Dental insurance is great too, its only about $5.00 (yes thats five dollars) a month for your spouse, and yours is no cost. But, you are responisble for tuition/books/fees and all that. I believe once you graduate med school, you are comissioned as a LT and your paychecks will skyrocket.

2.HPSP - Health professions scholarship program. You will be commissioned upon acceptance to the program, however, you only get a monthly stipend of just over $2,000. It does not pay base pay, or even housing allowance. What it does pay is your entire tuition/fees. Most LT's that I have talked to who used this scholarship did say that needed to take out loans to cover living expenses though.

To figure out what your housing allowance would be under HSCP enter the zip of your school here http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm
 
Feb 23, 2012
67
25
Status
Medical Student
Another idea -- would your spouse be interested in also going back to school? Mine started a master's program, which gave us access to loans for her COA; and then my med school agreed to add child care expenses to my COA because neither of us is currently working and neither of us can stay home with our son since we're both in school. See, if my spouse was working, my school assumed that she would provide for our son; and if she wasn't working they assumed she would stay home with him -- both of us being students was a loophole we found to the system! Bottom line, I'm now able to get loans for an extra ~$10k/year over what my classmates are allotted.

We figured that education debt is a better bet than credit card debt; plus it will most likely increase both of our earning potentials down the road (hopefully enabling us to repay our now scary amount of loans...) :greedy:

Good luck!
 

FumblyBumbly

5+ Year Member
Oct 2, 2013
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238
Secret Snoke Hideout
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Medical Student (Accepted)
If you're in med school right now, you're probably in an area with a lot of doctors and such, right? In my experience, high concentrations of high-earning professionals inevitably creates a demand for daycares that can afford to charge out the ass for a single kid. I don't know what legal loopholes you need to jump through to certify your wife and/or house as a daycare but if it's not onerous and the demand is there, I fifth the idea of your wife opening a daycare.

Where I live, there are pregnant doctors/wives only in their first trimester and they're already on 3-5 waiting lists for daycares. Waiting lists. 0_O

I also second the WIC/Medicaid/Welfare suggestion. If you're the only "working" parent and you're actually in school, I can't imagine that your income level would not qualify your family for these governmental programs. I know the general impression of those programs are negative but a large majority of people who utilize those programs only ever utilize them for a short time, just long enough to get back on their feet. That would be you guys! These programs are made just for people like you who need just a little bit of help to get them through this hump so take advantage of them!
 
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