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Sticker shock

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by WellWornLad, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. WellWornLad

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    Anyone else take a look at their financial aid package and seriously freak out?

    I've got a couple options on the table, but neither is cheap. Unfortunately, I didn't have a state school option or I would have jumped on it. It seems like everyone on this forum is talking about being 100K-150K in debt. I'm looking at $250K+, and that's with some seriously frugal living factored in.

    Eventually, I will need to buy a car. Replace my computer. Borrow money for residency interviews.

    Looking at nationwide tuition levels, it seems like there should be a lot more people in my predicament, however. Scholarships are few and far between, and I can't believe that that many parents/relatives would shell out tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars for their child's medical education, especially as those sorts of parents no doubt have spent bank on undergrad bills already.

    Any independent, non-filthy rich people out there in shock at what we're looking at? Looking at average debt levels I feel like I'm way out on the bell curve, but looking at tuition and living expenses I can't believe my situation is that uncommon.

    When I started applying, I figured that I'd wait to see my options before considering finances. Now that I have my options, I'm seriously wondering if I should quickly move to another state and reapply...
     
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  3. shaggybill

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    Edit: Never mind. I misunderstood the post...
     
  4. p30doc

    p30doc Ever true and unwavering
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    I'm not in shock at all, but also fully expect to have 250k+ in loans at the end of the process. Unfortunately my parents aren't weathly and nor am I. =P
     
  5. flip26

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    How are you still weighing options at this late date? Are any of your options at an instate public? Those numbers sound like private school or at least out of state public tuitions...figure that you ARE out on that bell curve, so to speak, since maybe (I am guessing) upwards of half of matriculants go instate public and presumably pay a lower tuition that limits debt to maybe $150k...

    I am still a year away from applying, but it is shocking how much debt people take on. I hope I am not one of them, knock on wood...
     
  6. PreMD86

    PreMD86 'Pre' free!
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    My first acceptance was Temple, and although I was overjoyed at first, when the dust settled I got major sticker shock. When I was accepted to my state school, I withdrew from Temple immediately. A couple of days later, I received my financial aid from Temple (I guess there's not enough communication between finaid and admissions). The letter stated my entire finaid is 42k in stafford loans. Mind you, their tuition alone is 47K, and COA around 70k. You'd think they'd at least provide you with enough loans to cover tuition, for god's sake. Seriously, thank god for state schools. I imagine most docs will eventually be able to pay off those loans, but as 21 year old, I feel like I would have trouble focusing on school knowing each day that passes is another few hundreds in debt.
     
  7. killer*imstinct

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    Hey Wellworn - I feel you. I have been scouring whatever financial aid-related threads I can find, but to no avail.

    This application cycle hasn't treated me well and I'm sitting on 1 WL at a state school (my top choice) and I have an acceptance to an amazing high linkage SMP (Tulane). I noticed, however, that Tulane gives very little in the way of non-loan FA and the potential sticker shock left me reeling. What's an independent, non-traditional applicant who's already got $60K in student loan debt from MPH/undergrad degrees to do? If everything goes according to plan and I take up the SMP and continue on to Tulane SOM, I'll walk out with about $400K in debt (not including interest, which I suppose will double that amount over the course of repayment). To top if off, I have no plans to specialize (interested in community health/geriatrics) and I have an aging, semi-dependent mom that I have to factor into my decision...

    I guess this post isn't really helpful, but I empathize with you. I'm still trying to figure out whether medicine and my reality are reconciliable. I might come to the conclusion in a few weeks that the opportunity cost is simply overwhelming for a myriad of personal reasons.

    If this helps, I think that many SDNers say that if you're interested in high-paying specialties, I don't think you should be as concerned with the debt load; otherwise you might be facing the same set of concerns I have! Best of luck finding a way to pay for medical school. Sorry for the super long post.
     
  8. Phoenix.

    Phoenix. Emdee Jaydee
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    killer: What about some of those rurual/primary care med school repayment programs? I don't know anything about them, but if I were you, I'd call Tulane's financial aid office and tell them your situation. Explain that your goal is primary care, and thus you feel that you simply won't be able to afford the $400k you'll be in debt once you graduate. I would hope that they could point out some resources/grants/scholarships for people who will be going into primary care or practicing in underserved/rural areas (if that's a possibility for you). I think I've read that it's usually best to commit to those programs at the end of medical school so that you don't prematurely lock yourself into anything (and want to change your mind), but I would think it's definitely something to look into now to set your mind at ease. I really hope there are resources out there to help you.

    I think it would be a real tragedy if you ended up passing up medical school and becoming a (much needed) primary care doctor because of the cost. But this is definitely a reality - I've met a number of graduating students at high tuition schools that would love to be primary care docs or pediatricians, but they end up going into high paying specialities to pay off their debt. The system is so messed up. :(
     
  9. Phoenix.

    Phoenix. Emdee Jaydee
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    wellwornlad: I was in the same position a week ago (a non-trad without parental resources and an expensive school). All you can do is try to suck it up and believe others when they say that it'll work out. Most likely by going into a higher paying specialty. And I agree that debt that high is nauseating. But from other students I've spoken to, the feeling does start to fade. And supposedly things do work out. I would just really worry if you wanted to go into pediatrics or primary care (a la killer above).

    I'm guessing you're not really serious about withdrawing, moving to another state to establish residency and reapplying, right?
     
  10. WellWornLad

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    No, only half-joking really. Taking a year off doesn't make much sense, considering that you're pretty much throwing away a year's salary as a physician, and that from the higher-paying years at the end of a career. It would be hard to match that even at a free-ride school, and I wouldn't bet on that kind of outcome.

    The field I'm interested in is not high paying, but I'm more afraid of the fields I haven't considered yet and which I may fall in love with.

    Thanks for all the responses, it helps to know that I'm not the only one jumping off the high diving board...keep 'em coming if you'd like to vent...
     
  11. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    There aren't that many people paying for their children, but you have to realize a few other things. In-state tuition for California and Texas - both of which are large states - is actually pretty reasonable. Then there are a number of people in the military, so they don't have any debt. I'm married with a gainfully employed wife, so I only need loans to cover tuition.

    And then there are full-ride scholarships and loaded parents. Those aren't really that common, but the other factors are pretty common.
     
  12. hawk126

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    Killer: I totally understand your anxiety. However, as Phoenix mentioned, loan repayment is a realistic and extremely viable option. The National Health Service Corp is a federal entity that will give you major dollars in exchange for service in underserved areas (rural as well as very urban). My wife is a PA and she just finished working (3.5 years) in a rural underserved area. The NHSC gave her $110,000 (to ammortize her student debt) in exchange for her time. On top of that, the compensation in this particular underserved area (as is the case with many rural underserved areas due to better medicaid/medicare reimbursements in addition to the paltry supply of practitioners) was extremely good.

    The NHSC pays more to physicians in underserved areas as compared to mid-levels, so for the same time commitment you'd make considerably more than she did. My wife did nothing prior to beginning her studies to qualify for the NHSC's loan repayment program... she simply went to school, accrued the debt and then applied to the program after she'd gotten her 1st job. I'm reasonably confident that during the year in which she applied, every practitioner who requested loan repayment benefits from the NHSC was approved due to the dearth in the number of applicants. If you want to go into primary care, this is an absolute no-brainer as far as I'm concerned. Take heart... all is not lost!!
     
  13. DoctorDreamer

    DoctorDreamer In a far away land...
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    Yeah, at one of my private choices, I was looking at $280K before interest.
    Another one would have been $340K. My state school would have been $220K total. My top two (privates off waitlists) were $186K and $195K.

    Now, those numbers are considering all financial aid/grants/scholarships I was offered, and adding on my undergrad debt, but OUCH!

    I'm going with the cheapest school, but I'm still overwhelmed!
     
  14. MILK07

    MILK07 Silence, I kill you!!
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    I'm not sure what kinds of loans you have looked into and this may vary from state to state, but I know of "Primary Care Loans" with very, very low interest rates and some debt forgiveness for each year after residency as a primary care doc. Also, have you looked into the Army, etc scholarships. They cover tuition, give you a nice stipend, etc. If you want to end up in a certain specialty, this may not be the best since they tend to dictate the kind of doctor you can become based on their needs, but from what I've heard they always need FM, IM, and Peds. Best of luck!
     
  15. killer*imstinct

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    Thanks all for your replies (sorry for hijacking the thread, Wellworn). I noticed that this thread didn't get any play over the weekend like I hoped, so I guess this isn't so much of an issue for many applicants (as many posters did point out). Either that, or no one really cares about how frightening prospects are for applicants with limited/no financial support and pre-existing debt.

    So with regard to NHSC/state-funded primary care efforts: if I decide to pursue medicine, I would love to apply to any/all of these programs. Knowing what I do about federal/state funding (used to work at a municipal department of health), however, I know that funding is limited and disbursed according to the policy agenda of the times (corroborated here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=9835&highlight=national+health+service+corp). There is no guarentee that there will be debt relief if I incur a significant debt load, especially if the upcoming election doesn't pan out and affordable, accessible healthcare is considered a far lower priority than warmongering.

    I'm going to be perfectly frank about why I am so hesitant to jump right into the fray: I really don't want to be a martyr to the biomedical machine. Why go into $400K in personal debt for a life in service to meet future societal healthcare demands with no assurances that my debt will be forgiven? I can essentially do what I do now and elaborate on it further (currently working in hospital administration but could aspire to work as a CFO/CEO of a community health center), add a different degree, and perhaps make more of a difference to the underserved communities I'd like to work with than as a harried practitioner swamped in student loan debt.

    Arg. This sucks. Any comments appreciated.
     
  16. p30doc

    p30doc Ever true and unwavering
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    There are much easier/cheaper ways to benefit humankind and make money than becoming a doctor, go with your heart.
     

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