Going into med school with 200k student loan debt, and will be adding another 350k, HELP

Windsor88

2+ Year Member
May 25, 2016
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Hey so I need some advice, I just got into medical school, I have 200k student loans already from undergrad and masters (I know its a lot, made some stupid decisions). My expected cost of attendance will be 350k for the next 4 years of school. Should I try to pay off interest during school with a job? will it be possible for me to pay off my student loans after residency? should I aim for high paying specialties? Should I join the military medical school program? just asking for some advice and help and what to maybe do now.
 

FutureInternist

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Aug 23, 2007
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Hey so I need some advice, I just got into medical school, I have 200k student loans already from undergrad and masters (I know its a lot, made some stupid decisions). My expected cost of attendance will be 350k for the next 4 years of school.
Should I try to pay off interest during school with a job?
will it be possible for me to pay off my student loans after residency?
should I aim for high paying specialties? Should I join the military medical school program?
just asking for some advice and help and what to maybe do now.
No - your first and only priority should be to do well in class and exams. If you happen to be a genius that doesn’t need to study then I guess its possible but would recommend against it.

Yes - Eventually all loans will be paid off or you will die.

Unsure - You will be doing what you will be for 25-30 years... you have to love it.
I cannot fathom folks who sit in clinic all day just like some folks cant fathom me wanting to be a hospitalist. Doing a particular specialty for the $ only is a recipe for burn-out.

Unsure - Would recommend you read that particular forum for more details but in my very limited experience with a fellow classmate he was told to do IM instead of his preferred Gen Surgery since at that time the Army said they needed more internists. (Again this is an n of 1 only, so a ton of salt)
 
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Apr 10, 2018
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Just be prepared to live in lower cost of living regions so you can put 100k a year towards loans and retirement for twenty years.
 
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Windsor88

2+ Year Member
May 25, 2016
20
4
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
No - your first and only priority should be to do well in class and exams. If you happen to be a genius that doesn’t need to study then I guess its possible but would recommend against it.

Yes - Eventually all loans will be paid off or you will die.

Unsure - You will be doing what you will be for 25-30 years... you have to love it.
I cannot fathom folks who sit in clinic all day just like some folks cant fathom be wanting to be a hospitalist. Doing a particular specialty for the $ only is a recipe for burn-out.

Unsure - Would recommend you read that particular forum for more details but in my very limited experience with a fellow classmate he was told to do IM instead of his preferred Gen Surgery since at that time the Army said they needed more internists. (Again this is an n of 1 only, so a ton of salt
Thank you for your reply. It makes a lot of sense ill definitely make sure to do a specialty I love because like you said it'll be what I am doing for 25-30 years. Ill look up more information about the military.
 
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Windsor88

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May 25, 2016
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Just be prepared to live in lower cost of living regions so you can put 100k a year towards loans and retirement for twenty years.
My whole fmaily is in new york and I dont think I can really go anywhere else, its not very
 
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Windsor88

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May 25, 2016
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My whole fmaily is in new york and I dont think I can really go anywhere else, its not very
It’s not very cost effective* is there any way I can live in ny with a decent life
 
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Windsor88

2+ Year Member
May 25, 2016
20
4
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Hey so I need some advice, I just got into medical school, I have 200k student loans already from undergrad and masters (I know its a lot, made some stupid decisions). My expected cost of attendance will be 350k for the next 4 years of school. Should I try to pay off interest during school with a job? will it be possible for me to pay off my student loans after residency? should I aim for high paying specialties? Should I join the military medical school program? just asking for some advice and help and what to maybe do now.
Anyone have a sample budget or how they paid off loans with similar amounts
 
Apr 10, 2018
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You're going to need to put 100k a year into student loans or retirement savings for twenty straight years to retire at sixty.
 

RangerBob

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Sep 16, 2012
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That is a lot of money. But I’d like to point out two things first:

1) Never join the military for the money-do it because you want to join the military.

2) I wouldn’t make salary the primary decision point for your specialty. You should do something you want to do for 20+ years. However, it could be a factor when you’re otherwise torn between two or more specialties.

Realistically you’re not going to make much in medical school to pay down your interest. And you’ll be accruing A LOT. $550k at 6% (I don’t know what current rates are-just an estimate) is $33,000 in interest added to your loans per year. Between interest accruing in medical school and residency, you’re going to have a big problem.

Step 1 is minimize that debt however possible. You don’t need to borrow the full $350k for medical school. Get to know whitecoatinvestor.com and mrmoneymoustache. You need to think preventative. You already owe more money now than most students do when they finish med school.

Educate yourself on loan forgiveness programs (but do not go into this counting on them-the future of those programs is not yet clear), and repayment plans. If REPAYE is still around when you enter repayment, it’ll save you about $15k in interest per year. That’s no small thing.

I borrowed a lot for med school (about $350k, plus I had $50k in undergrad debt). My wife had a fair amount of debt too, unfortunately with a low paying job (and now non-paying as she stays at home with the kid). Our debt is constantly hanging over us. It limits the house we can buy (so does living in CA-but it’s where family is), and just about everything. It’s basically a monster that is always breathing down our necks.

The only secrets are:
1) Borrow as little as possible
2) Pay off the loans as quick/aggressively as you can

Sample budgets are fairly worthless because it all depends on your personal circumstances. If your family is near NYC and it’s non-negotiable that you need to live in a decent neighborhood and a “good enough” home than that already takes up most of your budget. Also, everyone has different priorities. Maybe you’re a foodie, and have decided that taking an extra year to pay off your loans is worth being able to eat out every week.
 
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TMP-SMX

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When you enter repayment you need the REPAYE interest subsidy (depending on if you are going for public service loan forgiveness). If you are going for PSLF it depends maybe PAYE is better for you if spouse has income and you can file separately. I'd strongly look for nonprofit 501c3 or government jobs depending on your specialty if PSLF is a possibility. As above do military because you want to give back to your country not because financially you have no other option. Geographic arbitrage is a key to reducing your cost of living so you can afford to pay down debt and save for retirement. However, if you need to live in NYC then just expect to work more years or work more hours.
 

cpants

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Don't agree that you should just follow your heart with regard to specialty or even going into medicine. This is going to BALLOON into 700k+ by the time you graduate. Then you will be in residency for the next 3-5 years and not making enough to service the debt. This could easily turn into $1M in debt by the time you are making attending salary.

Honestly, I would consider not doing this. These numbers don't end up making a lot of sense, and you might be better off getting into another career now and just working on the 200K mistake you already made. Sorry, but you really should consider that. If you do decide to go ahead, you need to be aiming for a high paying specialty. Making $200k/year as a pediatrician it will be very hard to pay this off ever. Let's say you are at $750k loan balance after residency. At 7%, the service on the interest alone is going to be $52,500/year before even paying a dime of principal. Those are scary numbers.
 
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Aug 26, 2019
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I am curious as to how you are expecting $350k for four years of medical school - what does that number include in terms of expenses beyond tuition? Knowing that would help give you a better answer I think, but in general, I would suggest looking at the estimated salaries for your top 3 specialties. Similar to what has been said already, if you are looking to go into a specialty that won't make enough to justify the amount of debt you will be in, you will end up having to dig yourself out of that debt for decades. As much as you may love your job, having massive debt hanging over your head will be a huge mood killer. With that being said...

  • If your preferred specialty makes good money, continue on your path and live as cheaply as possible going forward. Look at the median income for the area you settle on and build your non-financial-aid budget around that - but the less you spend the better as all of the excess can be sent straight to knocking down your debt.
  • If your preferred specialty doesn't make enough money to justify medical school, look into employment related to whatever your master's degree was in, look for a less expensive school (in-state tuition?), or a mixture of the two. If you're going to school in NYC for the same reasons you want to move there post-medical school, you should consider looking at schools elsewhere. This will lower your costs during med school, and you likely won't have all that much time to see the family you want to be so close to anyway.

In either case, if you're set on staying in New York, why not live with the family that you are looking to stay close to? You mentioned it's not cost-effective to move, but given NYC is the most expensive city in the US to live in, it would be cost-effective to move just about anywhere else. However, if you need to stay near family, you should just save the big chunk of change and actually live with the family if at all possible. If you can't live with your family and still want to live in/near NYC, find an area with lower rent/cost for living, even if that means a longer commute.

Really, you have tons of options to consider for your path forward, you'll just need to determine what you want to be doing, where you want to be, and how to make the numbers work out so you aren't drowning in debt for the rest of your life.
 
Mar 14, 2019
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Hey so I need some advice, I just got into medical school, I have 200k student loans already from undergrad and masters (I know its a lot, made some stupid decisions). My expected cost of attendance will be 350k for the next 4 years of school. Should I try to pay off interest during school with a job?
First off, you're definitely at the higher end of the curve for student loan debt burden, but if you learn about personal finance and make smart decisions, you can limit the impact it has.

Secondly, I would look for any scholarships you can get in med school. They do exist, and writing a 5 paragraph essay is much easier than working another year to pay off more loans.

Depending on how good of a student you are, you could have a job in school, but I would prioritize learning medicine and becoming a good doctor. I have a friend who tutored for $20/hr a few days per month in school and did really well. But I also had friends who needed all of that time to study. It depends on you.

Another thing you can do is limit your expenses. Get roommates. Don't buy a new car. Cook at home. etc.


will it be possible for me to pay off my student loans after residency?
Yes! Absolutely!

For easy numbers, lets say you make $300k/year as an attending and have 550k in debt. After tax you'll make $192k. Can you live on 50k/year? That leaves 142k/year to pay off your loans. Depending on your loan interest rate, that's ~4+ years. It's absolutely doable.


should I aim for high paying specialties?
I'm not a fan of this. Every specialty has its pros and cons. Money is only one factor. If you'd hate your life as anesthesiologist or and ER doc, you shouldn't do that even if it promises more money than outpatient medicine. Again, you can address your loans, but you still need to be happy with what you do.

Should I join the military medical school program?
You can. I have some friends that did it, but they really wanted to be in the military. But it's not something you should do for money. Again, you still need to be happy with what you do.
 
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