Jun 27, 2013
Hello all,

I realize this topic has been brought up before, but I didn't find any particularly like mine. Most people seem worried about GPAs and GRE scores, but my concern primarily is the financial aspect PLUS the concern of having an unorthodox bachelor's (and some other peculiarities! ugh).

December 2012, I graduated with my BS in History and got my Secondary Education license. I accrued WAY too much undergraduate debt: sitting at about $79000 between private and federal loans. I never received a single grant or whatnot because my parents claimed me as dependent--so hopefully some grant money can be used in my graduate work. With my debtload, though, I told myself I pretty much have to get a fulltime job--no more schooling for me.. So all my interests that were stewing in the back of my mind (as someone interested in emotional and physical disabilities, Pharmacy and Physical Therapy were two of my interests) seemed and still seem impossible with the 79000 undergrad debt, especially since these require prereqs I haven't taken.

I currently am taking advantage of free schooling as a grad assistant to receive my special education endorsement which is something I like but I haven't had the same drive as I used to have.. I get a small stipend a month so it's extremely hard to keep up on even paying off interest on these loans.

I plan to observe some physical therapists over winter break. On a more pragmatic note, I'm curious about the financial viability of this. Is this unusual to have close to 80000 before entering into PT school? I hope to take all prereqs at a community college nearby so the cost wont be as much to get prereqs done. The schools I'm considering for PT are NIU, UIC, UW Madison, and Marquette.

My undergrad GPA was 3.84 or so. I'm fully confident that I will rock the prereqs, even if I don't take them at community college. I love science and I love physiology (physics and calculus will be the hardest parts for me). I did okay on the GRE though I definitely could do better; I got Verbal - 165 (95th percentile), Quantitative - 155 (61st percentile), Writing - 4.0 (54th percentile) (I hadn't taken a math class since high school, so I know I could do better!).

Does this sound viable? Should I just focus on special education work and get a full-time job and re-look at PT in the future? Or should I get on these prereqs and observations and start on it? I don't want to start on it and just set myself up for failure :-/ It'd be awfully disappointing to learn the job market is saturated or it just simply costs too much to be reasonable...

Honesty would be appreciated. Don't be too mean though :)
Jan 12, 2013
Philadelphia, PA
Occupational Therapy Student
Do you know about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Plan? It won't help you repay private loans, and I don't know how it works with debt from undergrad, but under the plan after 10 years of full-time work as a physical therapist in many settings, whatever is left of your federal loans is forgiven. This could make it worth it and more manageable for you. I'm looking into all this for occupational therapy, but from what I know of physical therapy its a growing profession, pretty recession-proof, and going to be boosted by the Affordable Care Act so I don't think you have to worry about it becoming oversaturated any time soon.

Mar 25, 2012
That's a pretty big chunk of undergrad debt going in. Most pt tuition is between 60-100 grand for the program. So add in your 80,000 and you're looking at a huge cloud of debt. That's not including books or living expenses during those three years. I have very little undergrad debt (<10k), so I decided to continue the pt route, plus, I have the option of living at home for about a year or so post graduation to cut some debt. I'm not telling you to not pursue pt, but I think everyone has to consider their situation financially and if there's outside resources for them (living with parents, etc.). You will be around 200k coming out. That's almost doctor level debt without the high pay of a physician. I think age is another factor. If you're in your 30's, you may want to just bite the bullet and get on with it. But, if you're early - mid 20's, maybe find a full time job and try to simultaneously rack up some observation/volunteer hours for a few years? There's so many ways you could go with this. Good luck!