Entering medical school is a huge decision. While the rewards can be great, becoming a doctor or medical professional is a long road. You’ll have to spend years getting a bachelor’s degree, going through medical school, and completing your residency.
Along the way, you’ll rack up a significant amount of debt. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 2017 medical school graduates walked away with $190,964 in student loan debt, on average. So the question is, is med school worth the price tag? Let's dig a little deeper.
Why medical school is so expensive
According to a recent article in The Washington Post,the costs of medical school in other countries is typically covered by the public sector, like the government. In the United States, it doesn’t work that way.
The cost of medical school can be staggering, but there’s a huge difference between public and private schools.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median four-year cost to attend public medical school is $243,902. If you opt for a private school, that number jumps to $322,767. That's close to an additional $80,000.
Keep in mind that those numbers are usually on top of the cost of an undergraduate degree.
3 ways to deal with medical school debt
Because the average graduate leaves medical school with over $190,000 in student loans, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or stressed about your payments. As you build your career and your practice, your income will increase and make affording your loans easier. But in the meantime, it’s important to explore your options to get much-needed relief.
Here are three things to consider:
1. Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan
If you can’t afford your payments on your federal student loans with your current income, consider signing up for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. With an IDR plan, your payments are much lower because your repayment term is extended and your minimum payment capped at a percentage of your discretionary income.
There are a number of repayment assistance programs that will help you repay your loans in return for terms of service. Depending on your specialty and location, you could get up to $120,000 in repayment assistance.
If you have private student loans or don’t qualify for repayment assistance, another option is torefinance your student loans. With refinancing, you work with a private lender to take out a loan for the amount of your current ones. The new loan has a different repayment term, interest rate, and monthly payment.
If you qualify for a lower rate or extend your repayment term, you could get a much lower monthly bill.
Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando. Specializing in personal finance, she is focused on helping people pay down their debt and boost their incomes. Her work has been feature din publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and U.S. News. Read more by Kat Tretina