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help!! is med school debt manageable?

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by AtYourCervix, May 9, 2002.

  1. AtYourCervix

    AtYourCervix Senior Member

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    I wanted to post this here since you all seem to be out of med school at this point. I am deciding between Northwestern (my number one choice), which will put me in about $250,000 dollars in debt, and UMich, my rather expensive state school. Northwestern is a much better match for me for many reasons, but I want to know if this amount of debt is manageable. Do any of you have similar debt or know of people who have paid it off in ten years?? Do you know of any horror stories?? Is it doable??? Am I crazy for taking it all on to go to the perfect school for me??? Post here or PM me please!!
     
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  3. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Obviously its manageable - people do it every year. Your ability to pay it back rather painlessly depends on a few factors:

    1) the pay in the field you practice in post-residency

    2) your ability to defer gratification after residency (ie, if you would live like a resident for just a couple more years, you could use that attending salary and make a big dent in your loan burden).

    That said, both schools you are considering are excellent and while I don't know your reasons for preferring NWU, I would seriously consider UMich and its lower debt load. In the end the difference it will make in obtaining a residency will be slim to none and the difference in lifestyle in being $100,000 less in debt will be substantial.

    best of luck.
     
  4. droliver

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    I agree with kimberli. Unless you're on scholarship, I don't think places like Northwestern, Baylor, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt,Tulane, etc... make much sense to choose them over a solid state school if you can get in. Unlike law or business schools, there's a diminishing return on IVY pedigrees & a $250K debt load can really suffocate you
     
  5. Goofy

    Goofy Senior Member

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    From a financial standpoint, it's a no brainer. Save your money, the burden will affect your career choice, trust me.

    If there are other compelling reasons to attend the costlier institution, than obviously give that some thought.
     
  6. </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by DukeGirlie:
    <strong>I wanted to post this here since you all seem to be out of med school at this point. I am deciding between Northwestern (my number one choice), which will put me in about $250,000 dollars in debt, and UMich, my rather expensive state school. Northwestern is a much better match for me for many reasons, but I want to know if this amount of debt is manageable. Do any of you have similar debt or know of people who have paid it off in ten years?? Do you know of any horror stories?? Is it doable??? Am I crazy for taking it all on to go to the perfect school for me??? Post here or PM me please!!</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Hi DukieGirl....I wish you the best in your decision...my situation wasn't similar to urs, but I want to tell you about the same experience and conflict I experienced during high school..

    I had gotten into Cornell and UCLA....I can't tell you how much I loved cornell in every way possible, for all the opportunities I thought it opened for me....but at the end, I felt $120,000 for a simple Bachelors degree wasn't worth it...and I'm glad I made that decision, and ended up going to UCLA...Now I am graduating and not only have I NO debt whatsoever, but I managed to save a good amount of money for med school from all the scholarships and jobs I had...

    Nums maybe a great school, and the debt is manageable over time....but seriously UMich is an AWESOME school, and doesnt it have a higher ranking as well? remember, u can always pay the money back, but at a huge expense of the interest! It's like buying a house and then graduating again, and this time U WANT to buy a real house, so it's like having two mortagages, and if u have decide to have a family...it gets even harder to pay the debt back...

    however, if u are going to be single for a while then money wouldnt' be an issue later on.....anyway, I think Umich is an awesome school, just think about it somewhere, and I advise u to do some calculations on how long it will take u to repay the loans (with interest) back, and if u want to buy anything like a house, car etc etc once u graduate....

    all usa medical schools are great...and at the end, an MD is an MD....but like me, why would u want to spend that much money, when u can go to an equally great state school and walk away debt free?

    best wishes, either way u can't go wrong...
     
  7. TheThroat

    TheThroat SDN Moderator
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    This is slightly off topic, but:

    droliver, Baylor is actually unlike other private med schools. It receives state funding from Texas, and thus, for TX residents, is only about $7000 a year. Non residents have to pay out-of state tuition ($25,000, I think) for a year, at which point they can become residents and pay the in-state tuition rate.

    Gots to defend mah turf!

    Just to clarify, not to flame. Oh yeah, I agree, don't chunk over the mucho cash to NW for a similar education from UMich.
     
  8. drfeelgood

    drfeelgood In Gas We Trust

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    Go to UMICH for med school and do your residency at Northwestern. It's pretty simple!!!
     
  9. </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by drfeelgood:
    <strong>Go to UMICH for med school and do your residency at Northwestern. It's pretty simple!!!</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">u know that is an awesome idea :D
     
  10. Whisker Barrel Cortex

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    I agree that University of Michigan is an amazing medical school and I would jump on that chance if I had it. It seems you really like northwestern, so here is some info to help you decide.

    I am a 4th year med student 1 week away from graduating with 180,000 total debt (including 12,000 undergrad). I just had my financial aid exit interview today and have been looking stuff up all day to find out my options.

    Based on todays interest rate of 5.39%, my monthly payment on that 180,000 will be about $1900 if I pay off in 10 years. Thats $22,800 per year. If I opt for the longer 30 year plan, monthly payments will be $975 / month or $11,700 per year. These numbers will probably go up a little bit because my interest will capitalize (become part of the principal) during my residency.

    So the numbers seem pretty high to med students like me and they will take a good chunk of your income if you go into a lower paying specialty like FP, peds, psych (think 120K minus 20K loan payment minus 40K taxes minus 10K malpractice = 50K take home). In most other fields, such as radiology (my specialty of choice) this should be no problem to pay off in 10 years (250K - 20k loans - 100K taxes - 20K malpractice still equals 110K tax free take home pay).
     
  11. AtYourCervix

    AtYourCervix Senior Member

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    you guys have been a great help. however, i want to hear more about whether $250,000 in debt is manageable?? the specialty i see myself in is ob/gyn...is this manageable for an ob/gyn??

    help me please!!! i am no closer to making a decision because my gut is pulling me in both directions.

    thanks!!!
    dukegirlie <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />
     
  12. Neurogirl

    Neurogirl Resident Extraordinaire

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    One of the above posters already answered your question. It all depends on how you want to live after residency and how you feel about paying large amounts of interest. If you plan on immediately buying a huge home complete with matching jags in the garage, you'll have a hard time. If you're willing to settle for a nice home and a new chevy, you'll be fine. Remember, we're just talking about the first few years after residency. Also, the interest on such a large loan is a big factor. Personally, I can't stand the thought of paying huge amounts of interest, so I plan to live like a resident for the first 3-5 years so that I can pay off the bulk of my loans.
     
  13. Juice

    Juice Junior Member

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    DukeGirlie,
    Everyone here agrees, go to UMich. It will make zero difference in residency. 250k in debt is a lot. You will not be able to pay these loans in residency, and the interest accrues AND compounds. That 250 will end up being about 400k when you finish residency. That is a huge chunk of change. OB/Gyn salary, like gen surg is down. Starting salaries are even lower. The ave gen surg is starting at 130-180, and paying 3-4 grand a month on that, post tax, will seriously affect your lifestyle. Trust me, go to UMich..
     
  14. ubiquitous

    ubiquitous Purple Member

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    DukeGirlie,

    My opinion is also in favor of UMich! I think there are many people on the board that will suggest that you go where you feel most comfortable, regardless of the cost. BUT, unless you think you'll be very unhappy at UMich, I think it's worth the decreased debt. Just think about how unhappy you might feel if you're staring $250,000 of debt in the face four years from now. With the current drop in physician salaries and reimbursements, I think it would be premature to estimate your income as an OB/Gyn 8 years in advance!

    Another option are programs such as NHSC (deadline passed) and one of the armed forces scholarships (don't know about those deadlines). You could still apply next year in hopes that you would have a scholarship for your remaining 3 years. Although the service commitment would be rather constraining, OB/Gyn definitely qualifies.

    But take it from me, as an MS1, my specialty area of interest changes monthly :rolleyes: I'm not saying this would be the case with you, but in case it is, it would be nice to not have a huge amount of debt hanging over your head and influencing your specialty choice in a few short years.

    Congrats on your acceptances, and GO BLUE!!! :D
     
  15. Whisker Barrel Cortex

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    I was hoping my post would give you some idea of what to expect in terms of loan payments etc. Although there are a lot of variables that may change by the time you are a practicing physician (7-10 years away is hard to predict), here is my take on your situation:

    Based on my info above, I would guess that your monthly payment will be around $3000 / month or $36,000 / year on the 10 year program, maybe a little higher. Average salaries for early career OB/GYN is around 150K to 200K. Lets say 200K - 40K - 80K taxes - 30K malpractice = 50K tax free take home. If you do a longer repayment, you payment can be as low as 1500-2000 / month, making this much more managable. This is just an estimate of your take home pay early on. Keep in mind that your salary will likely increase after several years in pracice and that this number is post-tax pay. You can live comfortably on that pay.

    I agree with the poster above who warned about changing your career plans, the majority of students do. I was thinking of internal medicine, now I'm doing radiology. If you change to FP, this could be harder to manage with your 250K debt.

    These are tough choices that I didn't have to make, I hope you take into consideration all factors before deciding. Good luck and congrats on having such great schools to choose from.
     
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  17. Dr. Nick

    Dr. Nick Senior Member

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    Consider the facts. UofMichigan is a TOP-LEVEL medical school. According to USNEWS, at #8, it outranks Northwestern.

    Do you really want to take on massive debt to attend a lower-ranked school?

    Sure you might feel more "warm and fuzzy" about NW, but unless it is worth flushing the monetary equivalent of a new car every year for the next ten years - i'd pass.
     
  18. </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by DukeGirlie:
    <strong>you guys have been a great help. however, i want to hear more about whether $250,000 in debt is manageable?? the specialty i see myself in is ob/gyn...is this manageable for an ob/gyn??

    help me please!!! i am no closer to making a decision because my gut is pulling me in both directions.

    thanks!!!
    dukegirlie <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I just hope your not basing NW best of the experience you had at the second look weekend...I heard that the actual class that appears in fall is usually half the number of pple u saw at the second look weekend....because chances are that most pple had other schools at their first choice....so the pple u saw that day might not be indicative of pple who are going :D

    food for thought
     
  19. SimulD

    SimulD Senior Member

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    I don't think it's fair everyone is telling you to go to UMich.

    I think she's made it clear that for personal reasons, she likes NUMS better. I went there for undergrad, and a bunch of my friends are there for med school and they love it. And I know people that love UMich (I'm from MI), too.

    But let me play devil's advocate. One is in Ann Arbor (to me = bleh! I partied there in high school) and one is on the Mag Mile on a beautiful lake in one of the coolest cities (and third biggest) in America. There's great food, music, nightlife, architecture, and culture. And NU has a great curriculum, a brand spankin' new hospital, and they don't have those darn Monday quizzes that UMich has. The first year schedule isn't bad at NU, and they have all kinds of post-exam parties at hot clubs/bars/music venues in Chicago and other great events. In Ann Arbor, what are you gonna do - go to Rick's or the Blind Pig for the millionth time? And for the non-MI folks: both UMich and MSU-CHM are more expensive than the typical state school, the budget comes to a bit over $35k/year for both of em (NU tips the scales at $54k/year, I believe).

    She really just wants to know about debt load, I think. And someone laid it out: $180,000 debt turns into about $2000/month, if it's over 10 years. And for family practice, that leaves $40-50k take home, which is alright for a few years. Probly have to get a townhouse/condo instead of a house, and settle for the Camry instead of the Benzo, but that's okay, she can still get the chrome rims (probly only fit 18s on a camry), if she doesn't eat out all the time.

    I don't know - I turned down my state med school for an expensive private one. It turns out being about $65,000 more (pre-interest) which is probably closer to $100k after interest. And that is about $700-$750/month extra, which sucks. But, I know I'm happier where I'm at, and that's what is important. Like Dr. Cox said, you'll pay it off, and it will a lot less painful if you live modestly. I know I won't be able to, so I guess I'll marry rich.

    Good luck,
    Go 'Cats

    Simul
     
  20. Ligament

    Ligament Interventional Pain Management
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    54,000 per year at northwestern!!!

    My god. Go to UMich, PLEASE!
     
  21. Dr. Nick

    Dr. Nick Senior Member

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Ligament:
    <strong>54,000 per year at northwestern!!!

    My god. Go to UMich, PLEASE!</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Seriously. Why pay more for less.
     
  22. AtYourCervix

    AtYourCervix Senior Member

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    you guys...thanks sooo much for all of your feedback. at this point, i feel like i will be heading to umich. most of you confirmed a gut feeling i had that i would be crazy to pass up umich for northwestern. i will keep you posted as to where i choose officially as the deadline is wednesday!!

    thanks!
    atyourcervix...formerly dukegirlie <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />
     
  23. Fermi

    Fermi Senior Member

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    Have you received your financial aid packages from both schools? NU apparently has something called a "debt cap" which is set for each entering class. Once you've borrowed up to the debt cap, they fund the rest with grants. I have no idea how high this cap is, but I'm sure it would prevent you from being $250,000 in debt as you were afraid of.

    Best of luck in your decision--it's one I wish I would've had to make. I wouldn't mind doing residency there in a few years, though, since I did my undergrad there.
     
  24. LaCirujana

    LaCirujana Smoking Gun

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    Here's one more vote for UMich--I stayed at my state school and saved a bundle (thank god!!!) and as a result was actually able to afford to buy a home for residency (7 years--didn't make sense to pay rent).

    Oh yeah, if you decide on A^2...see you in the OR! (I'm a NICE surgery resident, I promise. <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> )
     

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