Student Debt

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Sep 21, 2014
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I was just wondering what the average debt for optometry students is, and whether the field will provide you the opportunity to take care of that debt in a timely and "non-overwhelmed" manner. I'm not asking for personal details, but it'd be great if anyone who has dealt with this (positively or negatively) would comment with their thoughts and experiences. I've tried google, but I don't know how reliable those numbers are. Thank you so much in advance!

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Go to each Optometry schools website private and public institutions and look at their tuition/ fees and total living expenses. Also, call up Optometry schools and they should have statistics on the average debt incurred of each graduating class. Optometry education like other first professional degree cost a staggering amount. Private Optometry schools tuition can cost up to $40,000 a year alone. Add living expenses, etc can run $60,000. Four years in the program easy 200- 250K for your professional degree.
You didn't mention what your finances are like. How much loan you'll be taking out.

Twenty two years ago plus when I got out, Optometry was an investment where you made your money back and then some if you had no loans to pay back. Even those with a good amount of loans, 100-150 K were able to manage it and pay it back. In 2015, look at Optometric salaries across the board in every state of the country. You have salaries anywhere from 80K to 160 K and that is being employed whether on a 1099 (self employment) or W2 (employee). Jobs have become a lot more difficult to find in terms of full time work in big cities because there are a saturation of ODs. Opportunities however, still exist.

If you become resident trained and looking to enter academia -Optometry school teaching and also work PT that is also an option.
I can't answer your question as to what you are asking but I will tell you our salaries have not increased (stagnant ) during the past 5-6 years in parts of the North East. In some parts of the country from my understanding they have actually gone down regardless what the AOA claims.

To increase one's earnings many nowadays provide medical eye care with medical billing like OMDs same charges on the medical insurances besides the optical insurances.

Lastly, I can only tell you what I see out there. If you are looking at 250K student debt when you get out, you are facing an uphill battle when you'll be getting paid an annual salary of 100- 140K a year gross salary (pretax).

Good Luck and chose wisely.
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I'll put it like this...1 month before starting OD I withdrew my app and 2 years later started med school.

Decision was based on my interests, but debt:salary was another major factor. My debt load in med school is equal to what OD school would be. The debt is daunting, but when starting salary will be likely 75-100% larger than it would've been, I feel like I dodged a terrible financial decision that would've haunted me for 15-20 years.

Someone shared a study that showed optometry as having one of, if not the worst debt:income of all professional schools.
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GlowInThe Dark, I applaud your decision and rightfully so. Optometry is one of the worse debt : income. Perhaps, veterinary medicine might be up there too.

dejablue 10, physicians are more marketable than optometrists. Thus higher salaries in all aspects medical and surgical -sub surgical specialties.
In medicine you have what is called commensurate reward. In Optometry that doesn't exist. Any OD can sugar coat it all they want. How the great the profession is and yiada... yiada and it is a wonderful profession. The incomes of ODs are no where near those of MD's. Unless, you become a businessmen and open multiple optical- private and retail offices then you stand a chance of exceeding an annual optometric average salary as an employee if you succeed. No guarantee.

I've said this once and I'll say it again, the days of making money in Optometry are over. Many will disagree with me and that is fine. I respect their opinion. I'm telling you what I've seen and experiencing in the Optometry world outside of school.

The person above said it as it is. I'll put it to you in simpler terms and I'm done. Knowing what I now know, would I choose Optometry as a profession nowadays ? HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL NO !

Hope I answered your question.

Good Luck again and CHOOSE WISELY !
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Average debt is like 150-20Ok. A lot more if you take out loans to start a practice.

Pretty much everyone gets their student loans paid off without defaulting or living a pathetic lifestyle. But many are gonna take 20 years to do it. Imagine paying like 10-20k per year on top of taxes. It's not that hard to do with 150k and a middle class lifestyle. If you're making 80k in one of the crappy regions for optometry, it gets more difficult.

It's in the same ballpark as pharmacy in terms of ratio. Worse than medical. Worse on average than dental, with overlap. Better than vet school.

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The average tuition is getting way out of control to what you'll make. About 9 years ago I came out with a 100k in student loans. Unfortunately you'll max out income fast if you only accept third party insurance. You'll have to make it up by charging more for CL services, glass sales, medical visits.

Unfortunately our industry is saturated with vision plans. Try explaining to a diabetic why they have a $40 specialist copay with their medical insurance (plus a refraction fee) vs their $10 Eyemed copay.

Eyemed will pay you a whopping $40 (commercial practice) to $60ish (private practice) for a complex medical exam. Stay out of bed with vision plans they are a cancer to practices.

If you go into optometry I'd highly recommend a medical based setting, i.e. VA, MD-OD, health reservation.
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Someone shared a study that showed optometry as having one of, if not the worst debt:income of all professional schools.
There are easier ways to make money. If you just want to make money (and by no means should anyone hold that against you), there are definitely routes that are more lucrative, especially in terms of dollar earned/hour invested.
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