Dec 11, 2018
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I'm deciding between two schools and I'm struggling to determine how much money should matter vs fit. If money didn't matter, I would definitely choose Loyola over Penn State because I feel it is a better fit for me. However, there is a major financial difference between the two. I was offered $8k in need-based aid by Loyola and $18k in need-based aid by Penn. This scholarship is only guaranteed for this year, but both schools said I may be eligible for the scholarship again based on my financial circumstances and those of my peers in the future. This makes it difficult to make a decision without knowing what to expect financially.

I'm struggling to determine the point at which it would make more sense to go to Penn State and override my gut feeling about my good fit at Loyola.

Loyola's COA is $85, 201, Penn's is $71,498. So assuming the bare minimum (Loyola only giving $8k and Penn only $18k), Loyola's 4-year debt would be $332,804, and Penn's would be $267,992. That is a $64,812 difference.

If Loyola's need-based aid is repeated year to year, then I'd be $308,804 in debt. If Penn's aid is repeated, I'd be $213,992 in debt. That's almost a $95k difference.

Any advice on how much to weigh money in a school decision?
 
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965978

The difference in cost is very significant. So you need to do yourself justice and really pinpoint whether or not it’s worth it for you to go the more expensive option.

There are many things that can make you a better “fit” somewhere:

-City Culture
-School culture
-Weather
-Curriculum
-Location from family
-Location from SO
-Interview day vibes

If Loyola is truly the winner in all of these categories then I definitely would consider going there despite the cost difference because if it makes you more happy.
 
Dec 11, 2018
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The difference in cost is very significant. So you need to do yourself justice and really pinpoint whether or not it’s worth it for you to go the more expensive option.
I did have better vibes at Loyola when I was there for interview day and second look. As a non-traditional student, I felt like I fit in there more. Their classes are mostly non-traditional students whereas at Penn, they are mostly traditional students. Loyola's location is better in my opinion. Located near Chicago I'd be exposed to more diversity and I'd get a chance to move away and see what life is like in a different environment (which is something I've always wanted to do; I've only ever lived in rural NY). Penn is in a very small rural town. The schools are relatively similar in terms of their curriculum and caliber of their match lists.

When I envision going to med school, I can easily see myself at Loyola. But a potential difference in debt of $95k is scary. There isn't much material out there helping us figure out how to choose between medical schools. I read one article that said something along the lines of "paying $100k more for a piece of paper is ridiculous" but at the same time I feel like I want to feel comfortable and happy where I go.
 
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965978

I did have better vibes at Loyola when I was there for interview day and second look. As a non-traditional student, I felt like I fit in there more. Their classes are mostly non-traditional students whereas at Penn, they are mostly traditional students. Loyola's location is better in my opinion. Located near Chicago I'd be exposed to more diversity and I'd get a chance to move away and see what life is like in a different environment (which is something I've always wanted to do; I've only ever lived in rural NY). Penn is in a very small rural town. The schools are relatively similar in terms of their curriculum and caliber of their match lists.

When I envision going to med school, I can easily see myself at Loyola. But a potential difference in debt of $95k is scary. There isn't much material out there helping us figure out how to choose between medical schools. I read one article that said something along the lines of "paying $100k more for a piece of paper is ridiculous" but at the same time I feel like I want to feel comfortable and happy where I go.
At the end it’s your decision to make. You have to decide it you want to pay $95k more for what is essentially a more comfortable yet exciting environment for you.

Btw I just checked on MSAR and you’re absolutely right, Loyola does have a much higher portion of non-trads.
 

Lucca

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id Say 100k is a big deal. How big of a deal depends on each individual situation. If you see yourself being happy at the cheaper school even though it’s marginally less of a pleasant fit, I would choose the cheaper school in this particular scenario.
 
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Dec 11, 2018
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id Say 100k is a big deal. How big of a deal depends on each individual situation. If you see yourself being happy at the cheaper school even though it’s marginally less of a pleasant fit, I would choose the cheaper school in this particular scenario.
If I knew which specialty I was going into, then this decision might be easier. If I went into a lucrative specialty, then 100k wouldn't be such a big deal. Or even if I went into a loan forgiveness program, then I wouldn't know the difference. I feel pressured because of the April 30th deadline today to choose and this put such a wrench in my decision making. I think I could be happy at both, one just wouldn't be as exciting as the other I guess. It's hard to change my mind after thinking I was going to go to Loyola for some time now.
 
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965978

If I knew which specialty I was going into, then this decision might be easier. If I went into a lucrative specialty, then 100k wouldn't be such a big deal. Or even if I went into a loan forgiveness program, then I wouldn't know the difference. I feel pressured because of the April 30th deadline today to choose and this put such a wrench in my decision making. I think I could be happy at both, one just wouldn't be as exciting as the other I guess. It's hard to change my mind after thinking I was going to go to Loyola for some time now.
If your gut is telling you something, it’s probably right.

Life is too short. Do what makes you happy.

There is also one huge practical benefit of going to Loyola: you can take advantage of opportunities to rotate at UChicago and Northwestern, which would really boost your residency app competitiveness.
 
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Zen Arcade

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Go with the cheaper. Its tempting to go with the one that feels a little better, but if they are still relatively close in comparability 95k less in loans is going to make a big difference down the road. If you take 10-15 years to pay off loans that 95k will be a LOT bigger of a number due to interest. The burden of loan debt is a real thing and something that I think can be underestimated when faced with so many big decisions. Of course, its up to you. But this is my suggestion for what its worth.
 
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Dec 11, 2018
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If your gut is telling you something, it’s probably right.

Life is too short. Do what makes you happy.

There is also one huge practical benefit of going to Loyola: you can take advantage of opportunities to rotate at UChicago and Northwestern, which would really boost your residency app competitiveness.
That is true, I could easily participate in away rotations there and boost my app. Maybe I should just trust my gut.
 
9

965978

That is true, I could easily participate in away rotations there and boost my app. Maybe I should just trust my gut.
Although keep in mind that $95K is a lot of money. So you really have to think this through by tonight.
 
Mar 27, 2019
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I think that is a formidable increase. While your gut might make you happy in the short term, really make an effort to get a hold of how much that debt will expand over the trajectory of your career as those zeros (purely interest on the difference between the schools before you are really making headway into your debt) start adding up and deducting from your paycheck. But that also may depend on your salary and needs later on how much that will affect you.
 
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Dec 11, 2018
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I guess it's hard for me to even grasp being in that much debt. $308k vs $214k both sound like crazy amounts of debt. It's hard to imagine what it would be like to have that financial debt and how it would affect my life in the long run.
 
Jul 4, 2018
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I've gone back and forth on this quite a lot lately but I've come down on the side of going to the school you really want to go to at almost any cost. When you are an attending physician, even if you choose the lowest paying specialty in the most expensive city (SF or NYC), you'll still be able to pay your loans back quite comfortably over, say, 10 years, while bringing home a still-above-average income after taxes.

Say you consolidate your loans and they wind up being 500k after interest (more-or-less a worst case scenario assuming you borrowed full COA). Even if you wind up only making 200k before taxes as an attending, that means you're bringing home about 130k cash. So you could wind up with 80k cash every year and pay the loans off in ten years. 80k will still allow you to pay 3000 dollars a month in rent, 1500 a month on food, and wind up with 25,0000 a year to buy clothes, luxuries, your new kid's school supplies, or just save. And that's only the first 10 years of your career - once the monkey is off your back you'll be doing more than fine, assuming your lifestyle is modest enough. Alternatively, you could be more aggressive and get the loans out of the picture ASAP, and just keep living like you did in residency. And again, this is all assuming you are making one of the lowest physician salaries available now.

Now think about actually spending 4 years committed to a medical school that you don't love or feel like you have the best opportunities at. Granted, there aren't many med schools that will actively stifle your goals or anything, but are you going to be reminded of the compromise you made every time you walk through the doors of the campus? That's a personal decision, but for me the answer was "yes," and several of my mentors cautioned me the same way. Still, it's a personal call, but let's just say there is not a national trend of phyisicians actively having their lives utterly ruined by debt. You'll be able to pay and still have an absolutely normal, healthy lifestyle.
 

wontonsoup

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I've gone back and forth on this quite a lot lately but I've come down on the side of going to the school you really want to go to at almost any cost. When you are an attending physician, even if you choose the lowest paying specialty in the most expensive city (SF or NYC), you'll still be able to pay your loans back quite comfortably over, say, 10 years, while bringing home a still-above-average income after taxes.

Say you consolidate your loans and they wind up being 500k after interest (more-or-less a worst case scenario assuming you borrowed full COA). Even if you wind up only making 200k before taxes as an attending, that means you're bringing home about 130k cash. So you could wind up with 80k cash every year and pay the loans off in ten years. 80k will still allow you to pay 3000 dollars a month in rent, 1500 a month on food, and wind up with 25,0000 a year to buy clothes, luxuries, your new kid's school supplies, or just save. And that's only the first 10 years of your career - once the monkey is off your back you'll be doing more than fine, assuming your lifestyle is modest enough. Alternatively, you could be more aggressive and get the loans out of the picture ASAP, and just keep living like you did in residency. And again, this is all assuming you are making one of the lowest physician salaries available now.

Now think about actually spending 4 years committed to a medical school that you don't love or feel like you have the best opportunities at. Granted, there aren't many med schools that will actively stifle your goals or anything, but are you going to be reminded of the compromise you made every time you walk through the doors of the campus? That's a personal decision, but for me the answer was "yes," and several of my mentors cautioned me the same way. Still, it's a personal call, but let's just say there is not a national trend of phyisicians actively having their lives utterly ruined by debt. You'll be able to pay and still have an absolutely normal, healthy lifestyle.
Interest alone on 500k of grad plus loans is 38k. It will take closer to 70k/year to pay it off in 10 years if you have 500k in debt. 130-70 = 50k there goes all your luxury/saving money. Is 10 years of making less than you did in residency worth going to one MD school over another? At that point you will be 40 and just getting your financial life started -- no savings, no retirement, no college fund and no scholarships because of your high income, no house. Whoever is staring down the barrel of 500k in debt better think very carefully before pulling the trigger. That is life-course altering levels of debt.
 
Dec 11, 2018
21
23
I've gone back and forth on this quite a lot lately but I've come down on the side of going to the school you really want to go to at almost any cost. When you are an attending physician, even if you choose the lowest paying specialty in the most expensive city (SF or NYC), you'll still be able to pay your loans back quite comfortably over, say, 10 years, while bringing home a still-above-average income after taxes.

Say you consolidate your loans and they wind up being 500k after interest (more-or-less a worst case scenario assuming you borrowed full COA). Even if you wind up only making 200k before taxes as an attending, that means you're bringing home about 130k cash. So you could wind up with 80k cash every year and pay the loans off in ten years. 80k will still allow you to pay 3000 dollars a month in rent, 1500 a month on food, and wind up with 25,0000 a year to buy clothes, luxuries, your new kid's school supplies, or just save. And that's only the first 10 years of your career - once the monkey is off your back you'll be doing more than fine, assuming your lifestyle is modest enough. Alternatively, you could be more aggressive and get the loans out of the picture ASAP, and just keep living like you did in residency. And again, this is all assuming you are making one of the lowest physician salaries available now.

Now think about actually spending 4 years committed to a medical school that you don't love or feel like you have the best opportunities at. Granted, there aren't many med schools that will actively stifle your goals or anything, but are you going to be reminded of the compromise you made every time you walk through the doors of the campus? That's a personal decision, but for me the answer was "yes," and several of my mentors cautioned me the same way. Still, it's a personal call, but let's just say there is not a national trend of phyisicians actively having their lives utterly ruined by debt. You'll be able to pay and still have an absolutely normal, healthy lifestyle.
Great points. If I do choose the cheaper school, I'm worried I would constantly wonder "what would my life be like if I went to my gut-feeling school?" Granted, I'm also worried that I may be trading 4 years of happiness in med school for 10-20+ years of financial struggles when I'm trying to start a family too. But I'm also used to a pretty used to a humble lifestyle (my family has always lived near the poverty line). I could also make use of hospital sign-on bonuses or loan forgiveness programs (if I'm lucky enough to qualify)
 
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Dec 11, 2018
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Interest alone on 500k of grad plus loans is 38k. It will take closer to 70k/year to pay it off in 10 years if you have 500k in debt. 130-70 = 50k there goes all your luxury/saving money. Is 10 years of making less than you did in residency worth going to one MD school over another? At that point you will be 40 and just getting your financial life started -- no savings, no retirement, no college fund and no scholarships because of your high income, no house. Whoever is staring down the barrel of 500k in debt better think very carefully before pulling the trigger. That is life-course altering levels of debt.
Definitely terrifying to think of. I would definitely need loan forgiveness.
 
Jul 4, 2018
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Interest alone on 500k of grad plus loans is 38k. It will take closer to 70k/year to pay it off in 10 years if you have 500k in debt. 130-70 = 50k there goes all your luxury/saving money. Is 10 years of making less than you did in residency worth going to one MD school over another? At that point you will be 40 and just getting your financial life started -- no savings, no retirement, no college fund and no scholarships because of your high income, no house. Whoever is staring down the barrel of 500k in debt better think very carefully before pulling the trigger. That is life-course altering levels of debt.
I'm not talking about taking out 500k in loans, I'm talking about having paid 500k by the time you are clear of the loans. Unless you're in some very rare and disadvantageous out of state tuition situation or something, absolutely full COA with every cent of your living expenses borrowed will rarely be more than about 330k, which will balloon up to around 500k after residency and during repayment. It's a lot of money but it's not life ruining on an attending salary (and again, I figured on almost the lowest possible salary available in the most expensive cities avaiable in my above estimates).

Factor in that for many low-paying specialties there are loan forgiveness options or sign-on incentives and the picture gets better still.

Again though, all a personal thing. If big money is a factor in this as a career decision (which is 100% OK - you put a lot of time in and deserve it) then go to a cheaper school or pursue a more well-paid specialty.

And all that said, I do completely agree that it is life altering debt and it should not be decided on lightly! That is true.
 
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SchoolBoy30

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Id save the money. I don't think you will be getting out too much during medical school, and if you are, you're doing it wrong. Save that money and I'm willing to bet that you will have the same education and same chances of matching at any program you wanted across the nation. Hustle hard during medical school and crush Step and you will likely be able to set yourself up for the residency of your choosing. And to be honest going to a less desirable place might actually have that effect with no distractions LOL. After that you can set yourself up with a lifestyle specialty in Florida, LA or Hawaii (JK) and enjoy your life forever more.
 

Shammyguy3

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Significant difference. Go with Penn. It's not just 95k, it amounts to more with the interest that will accrue as well
 
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