Vith

10+ Year Member
May 8, 2008
54
0
Montana
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey everyone. I'm a 26 year old Air Force staff sergeant who's separating from the military in August in order to focus more on completing my bachelor's degrees. I'm doing a Biology and Chem double major at a (painfully expensive) tiny, private, LA university in Montana, and plan on hitting med school soon after I'm done here. I'm married and have a 3 month old son, and we own our home. We also have 2 dogs, 3 cats, and a goldfish that refuses to die.

Right now I'm trying to get all the pieces in place to keep everything afloat after we leave the socialist utopia that is military service. I'm primarily concerned with the availability of private loans and health insurance, as we'll be losing our primary source of income and hanging on to our mortgage and won't have our sweet, sweet Tricare anymore, either.

I know what I'm doing is possible and I know I'm capable of doing it, and I'd love to get some mentorship and hear how folks in similar situations get through the pre-medical part of the journey.
 

lsmith55uf

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2007
35
0
Status
Medical Student
Ok, I am in a very similar situation, although a little farther along. I am currently a Captain in the Army, and already have finished my BS and have been accepted to Med School. I am separating from the Army in July, and will be starting medical school in August. I am married, have a 1 yr old crazy Jack Russell and we have a baby due about a month before I separate (yikes!).

I am surviving by maxing out the private and federal loans. We have some savings from equity, and what we could save up, but it ain't gonna pay the bills for 4 years. As far as insurance, I am getting the minimum school insurance, and paying out of pocket for my wife and daughter to have medical insurance. I am hoping my wife will be able to work in about 2-3 years, so if your spouse can work, it will help out a lot.

The options are out there, and it is doable, it just may be a rough road. It'll be worth it in the end. If you have any questions or need help with anything, feel free to ask or PM me.
 
OP
V

Vith

10+ Year Member
May 8, 2008
54
0
Montana
Status
Pre-Medical
Did you consider either of the military routes through medical school, either the Army Health Professional Scholarship, or USUHS?
I'm not sure how either would work with you already being a captain, but it seems like a good way to dodge a lot of debt. They're a lot more alluring on this side of the fence.

I'm hoping our home equity will pay off the majority of the undergrad debt we build up over the next 3 years while I finish up here.
 

lsmith55uf

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2007
35
0
Status
Medical Student
Did you consider either of the military routes through medical school, either the Army Health Professional Scholarship, or USUHS?
I'm not sure how either would work with you already being a captain, but it seems like a good way to dodge a lot of debt. They're a lot more alluring on this side of the fence.

I'm hoping our home equity will pay off the majority of the undergrad debt we build up over the next 3 years while I finish up here.

I looked at both HPSP and USUHS, and decided against either. Yes, they are great for dodging debt, but you owe them way too much time. USUHS incurs about a 12 yr ADSO (found this out from an AMEDD recruiter and a surgeon here at Ft. Bragg who went to USUHS) and the HPSP is similar. The debt is negligible if you do the math and see how much you can make on the outside vs. in the service as a doc. Also, I have spent too much time in the sandbox gettin blown up and shot at, so the time I get to spend at home with my family is priceless. Student loan debt is a part of life, and you will pay it back eventually.

If you are interested, I have contacts at both USUHS and AMEDD. For USUHS I believe you would receive a commission as soon as you start school, be paid as a 2LT through med school, and be promoted to CPT upon graduation. HPSP I am not sure, but I do know they will pay for your school, and pay you a stipend during school.
 
OP
V

Vith

10+ Year Member
May 8, 2008
54
0
Montana
Status
Pre-Medical
I looked at both HPSP and USUHS, and decided against either. Yes, they are great for dodging debt, but you owe them way too much time. USUHS incurs about a 12 yr ADSO (found this out from an AMEDD recruiter and a surgeon here at Ft. Bragg who went to USUHS) and the HPSP is similar. The debt is negligible if you do the math and see how much you can make on the outside vs. in the service as a doc. Also, I have spent too much time in the sandbox gettin blown up and shot at, so the time I get to spend at home with my family is priceless. Student loan debt is a part of life, and you will pay it back eventually.
I've done a lot of reading into both options and came to the same conclusion you did. I was initially looking into joining the ANG during undergrad for the insurance and time in service. Doing that would have put me halfway to retirement, which makes going career seem more justifiable. However, I would have had to change jobs to join the guard and would have been gone for 4+ months for retraining and have to miss a semester. Can't do that if I want to get into med school before I'm 30.

How much is it running you to insure the wife and kid out of pocket, if you don't mind my asking?
 

lsmith55uf

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2007
35
0
Status
Medical Student
Its looking like $188-$255 per month to insure them.

I thought about staying NG or Reserve, but the possibility of getting bounced to Iraq halfway through school is a risk I won't take. I'd rather be $200k in debt than be an Army doc. The ones I know here at Bragg are miserable, their choices of residencies are limited, and most of them end up doing primary care. The sad thing is, most military docs make ~20-30% of their civilian counterparts who don't get deployed. The only happy ones are the DoD contracted civilians who didn't go to a military school.
 
OP
V

Vith

10+ Year Member
May 8, 2008
54
0
Montana
Status
Pre-Medical
Its looking like $188-$255 per month to insure them.

I thought about staying NG or Reserve, but the possibility of getting bounced to Iraq halfway through school is a risk I won't take. I'd rather be $200k in debt than be an Army doc.
That doesn't sound too terrible.
I totally understand what you're saying, though AF docs get pampered pretty well from what I hear. It's mainly my wife who's pushing me to keep the military involved in this process, but she only sees the bright side of it. Being in a non-deploying career field for the past 6 years has kind of kept us both in rose-colored glasses as far as what 'real' military life is like.

Is this an appropriate place to ask about worthwhile lenders for undergrad private loans? My tuition smokes my stafford loans, and with the loss of my income, we're going to need at least 10k the first year to keep the bills paid. Our debt:income ratio kind of sucks with the mortgage, and my credit has a couple of blemishes from screwed up pay allotments causing late payments so I'm starting to get paranoid that we'll be unable to find that money. :eek:
 

lsmith55uf

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2007
35
0
Status
Medical Student
I use Sallie Mae, and it will take care of everything I need. You can try them, or check out your school's fin aid office and they should be able to point you exactly where you need to go.

Before you do anything medical with the military, head over to the military medicine threads and read up on it. I have yet to meet one who is happy with there choice.
 
OP
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Vith

10+ Year Member
May 8, 2008
54
0
Montana
Status
Pre-Medical
I'll check them out. I'd been avoiding them because all I hear is horror stories about them. Right now we're mid-application with Act Education Loans, and got rejected by Wells Fargo. 3 months of shopping left to do. Someone has to be crazy enough to give us this money.
Really appreciate your help with everything so far.
 

nontrdgsbuiucmd

10+ Year Member
Mar 28, 2008
998
3
my own little world
Status
Medical Student
Definitely I'd hit up Sallie Mae, there are a number of private loan sources that I believe are state specific, my grad work to date was in Illinois, "IDAPP" is the group there.

There's a web site, annualcreditreport.com I believe, that will allow free access 1x per year to your credit report, I'd pull them, confirm that everything is correct, see if anything needs to be disputed. That'll help with qualifying for student loans.

I'd reviewed the military option/numbers as well, and come to the same conclusion, in my mid-30s, kids in private schools, the military pay after finishing school, from what I'd learned, would not quite pay our household cost of living, should I be relocated to a different state & if my wife could not work there for whatever reason. Might be a thought to look into that for those of you without kids yet, add in all the child care costs, school, saving for their college, saving for retirement, and 100K per year or so does not go as far as one might think, particularly given also the risk of possible deployment.

Financially, it may sound great to not have the loans by going the military route, it does not take too many years as a specialist making 250K/yr versus a military doc's salary to pay off student loans. As a finance person, I ran some numbers and it was substantially better to go the private sector route. It just takes some time to get used to the idea of several hundred thousand in loans. But on the other hand, a former client of mine was a cardiologist, early 30s, and had just bought a $1 Million house. Maybe if one had $200K of loans, the house would be a smaller, $600 - $800K house? that would still be much larger than what our family would ever need.

Finally.. insurance (disclaimer: I used to be licensed in health/life/etc. insurance). My family of four has a high deductible plan, we pay $360 per month approximately, and would pay the first $2,500 per person, max $5,000 per year for all medical expenses. The going rate in my state for a "normal" plan for our ages would be around $1,200; my thinking is that we save $800+ per month, and it is the very, very rare month that we'd incur anywhere near $800 in expenses (urgent care visits run $200 or so out of pocket, kids visits $80 or so, etc). Hopefully the med school plan rates are better? We're a year away from being enrolled still. May want to check "quotesmith.com" for health insurance quotes. Rules vary by state, typically there will be "individual underwriting" and may be limits/exclusions for pre-existing conditions.