One year left in the Navy, looking at loan options

Fowlzr

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Sep 9, 2015
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Yes, this is my very first post at SDN. I am not sure if I am posting this in the correct section but oh well.. I have been lurking for some time trying to get info on how to go about going to school full time while supporting my family, my wife and one child. I currently have 45 transferrable credits from the Navy, and a CC. I have done recommended courses such as humanities and psychology at the CC, as well as one semester each of BIO and CHEM. I did not take any more pre-reqs at the CC because I hope to go to school full time at a University to become "more competitive" and finish my degree faster than I would if I stay active duty. I have been a Hospital Corpsman in the Navy for the past 6 years, and my contract is up in NOV 2016. With prior military service, I believe taking the first two BIO and CHEM classes at a CC wont look very bad at all considering the circumstances.

What I am mostly worried about is being able to make it and support my family financially. I do have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but that only covers tuition and rent 36 months (consecutive months, so it wont cover rent in between semesters or holiday breaks, even if it is just two weeks or less). With tuition covered and mostly rent covered, I am wondering exactly how much I can borrow through federal loans to cover living expenses. I have read several different things such as you have to max out a Stafford loan before you can get a PLUS loan, and sometimes it wouldnt even cover all of tuition. If that was the case I would not be able to have everything covered IF I did not have the GI bill. My wife will most likely not be working and will be taking care of our child, so we will not have any type of income at all. I guess what I am asking is for some advice from someone who has been through, or knows someone who has been through a similar situation and has been successful in finding the right loans to keep their family financially stable while attending school full time. Right now this is something that I am set on, even though my career counselor is trying to talk me out of it and wants me to re-enlist. Many of my peers think that what I want to do is not possible, just because they are unaware of loan options, or are comfortable staying enlisted active duty forever becasue of the security blanket. If any one has experience or info at all, please share. It will be greatly appreciated!
 
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mimelim

Vascular Surgery
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Sep 19, 2011
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Edit your name out of the initial post. Gotta protect yourself ;)

#1 CC credits: Taking a few pre-reqs as a CC is perfectly fine, especially in situations such as yours. The main question that we need answered is whether or not you can handle harder course work at the university level. If you have several semesters of doing well at that higher level, it doesn't matter where the rest of the credits come from.

#2 Every medical school has a financial aid department and their job is to ensure that you can cover the cost of attending medical school. The reality is that most medical students get some sort of loan to help pay for tuition or living expenses. How much depends on their needs. You will not need to figure this out on your own. When you apply to schools, they will universally have resources available and some will even have a financial aid worker talk with everyone on the interview day.

#3 The Stafford loans are quite good. Grad PLUS less so, but better than private loans.

#4 If you get into medical school, financial institutions come after you and will lend you ridiculous amounts of money at very low interest rates or with deferred payment plans because you are a good, safe and stable investment. This is why it is so easy to get loans for medical school and beyond. In the city that I live there are banks that have 'resident physician mortgages'. If you are a resident buying a home, zero down with the most competitive interest rate on the market. Why? The chances of you not having a well paying job over the duration of the loan is incredibly small.
 
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Fowlzr

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Sep 9, 2015
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Thank you for the reply. The transition will be scary, and I was unsure of how it will go when I leave the military. I will get out next November, but wont be able to start school most likely for a few months until the spring semester. Which might not be too bad, I hear it takes the GI Bill a while to kick in anyways. If I go all year round I should be able to get my degree within two years. From what I've gathered, getting loans after getting accepted into medical school isnt a big deal. I am just worried about it for the few years before med school. According to studentaid.ed.gov, the maximum amount you can borrow with a stafford loan is only $12,500 per year, which I know will not be enough for my family. Once I max out the Stafford, am I able to apply for another federal loan?
 

mimelim

Vascular Surgery
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Sep 19, 2011
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Sorry, I misunderstood. I am out of my depths regarding undergrad loans. I'm not entirely sure the limits/options, need someone else to chime in. Alternatively, I'd consider calling up a financial aid office at one of the undergrad universities you are considering. They are generally very helpful people.
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
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Mar 7, 2005
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Don't worry about collecting more CC credits while you are in the service. Adcoms do take that circumstance into account and it may save you some time/money when you get out.

You've got tuition and rent covered for the time you are in school so you'll need to borrow for school fees and books, food, health insurance premiums, utilities, transportation, clothing (kids grow like weeds).


You may need to be creative in terms of earning while in school. With your work experience, you may be able to pick up a couple shifts per week in a health care setting and make some money (and keep your skills sharp and see the civilian side of health care). Could your wife take care of one or two additional children in your home or take care of your child and other children in someone else's home? She might look into what it would take to be licensed as a home daycare provider. Faculty and staff in a college town tend to have the income to afford daycare and there is always a demand for good childcare.

Have you given any thought to where you will live after the military? TX and FL are good to med school applicants (many state schools, cheap instate tuition, preference for instate applicants). If you have the flexibility to move anywhere after you are discharged, you might want to be strategic in that regard. Another factor is where you have family and where a school may give you a nice scholarship (to cover books, fees & living expenses since tuition is covered by GI Bill) and where you can keep your cost of living (including taxes) low. (Even if your income tax bill is tiny, you will be paying sales tax in some areas; property taxes will factor into the cost of your housing.) Some private schools have higher tuition but more generous grants (that don't have to be paid back) such that the net cost is cheaper than a school with a lower list price.
 
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MrLogan13

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Is there any reason why you can't work at least part-time while in school? I was using post 9/11 GI Bill as well, and worked about 20-30 hours a week while actively enrolled in school, and full-time on breaks. It worked out well.
 
Aug 13, 2013
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Fellow Navy Corpsman here. Make sure you start GI paperwork ASAP, it's a long process but just make sure you're taking steps in the right direction; the good news is that if you get registered for the post 9/11, you can get backpay for previous semesters, but you are on that 36 month clock. Look up the BAH in the zip code where you will be going to school, that's what you'll get. Apply to FAFSA ASAP so you can qualify for the Pell Grant and possible scholarships. I noticed you said you can be all said and done with undergrad in two years, and I highly recommend you rethink that. I would say take 12 credits/semester to qualify for full-time student and take your hardest classes (OCHEM, Physics, maybe even A&P) in the summer so you have more time to devote to those. Find out how many credits you can handle a semester and don't get too overzealous, you'll want that extra GPA boost and you'll have more time to be studying for your MCAT. I tried rushing to get prereqs done to take the MCAT before the change and ended up with a C and two B's in MCAT classes. If possible, work your ass off for the rest of your enlistment and get an LOR from the most senior Medical Officer in your unit, that will help a ton come admissions time. Good luck!
 
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Fowlzr

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Sep 9, 2015
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Is there any reason why you can't work at least part-time while in school? I was using post 9/11 GI Bill as well, and worked about 20-30 hours a week while actively enrolled in school, and full-time on breaks. It worked out well.
That is certainly an option, bu tthis will be my first time taking college courses full time, and I didn't do so great in high school, mainly because I just did not care. So I feel like once I get used to the work, I can be comfortable with a part time job. As I said above, I also have a family to take care of. So I would rather have a little more time to spend with them than work a part time job only if I can get a sufficient amount of loans. That is how I feel right now at least..
 
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Fowlzr

2+ Year Member
Sep 9, 2015
5
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Fellow Navy Corpsman here. Make sure you start GI paperwork ASAP, it's a long process but just make sure you're taking steps in the right direction; the good news is that if you get registered for the post 9/11, you can get backpay for previous semesters, but you are on that 36 month clock. Look up the BAH in the zip code where you will be going to school, that's what you'll get. Apply to FAFSA ASAP so you can qualify for the Pell Grant and possible scholarships. I noticed you said you can be all said and done with undergrad in two years, and I highly recommend you rethink that. I would say take 12 credits/semester to qualify for full-time student and take your hardest classes (OCHEM, Physics, maybe even A&P) in the summer so you have more time to devote to those. Find out how many credits you can handle a semester and don't get too overzealous, you'll want that extra GPA boost and you'll have more time to be studying for your MCAT. I tried rushing to get prereqs done to take the MCAT before the change and ended up with a C and two B's in MCAT classes. If possible, work your ass off for the rest of your enlistment and get an LOR from the most senior Medical Officer in your unit, that will help a ton come admissions time. Good luck!
I appreciate the response! I am currently with Dental Battalion, so I would have to request to shadow a physician for a while possibly at NH Lejeune. One thing I was wondering about was the amount of time it will take for the GI Bill to kick in and for me to start getting BAH and tuition. If they are late will the school still let me start the semester classes? And most schools I looked at so far (all ohio public schools because that is my HOR) require a certificate of eligibilty from the VA. When I was going to apply for eligibilty through the VA on eBenefits, it says that I have to have an honorable discharge. Can I use the one that I got when I reenlisted, or do I have to wait until I get my DD-214 to apply for benefits? I already called the info line and it is pre-recorded and tells you the info that is already listed everywhere and then it hangs up. With just over a year unitl I seperate, is it too early to apply for the certificate of eligibility? I do not want to start the 36 months too early before I even begin to take classes. Thanks again, much appreciated
 
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