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The Big Payback: 4 Effective Debt Management Solutions For Medical Students
Sunday, 11 April 2021

You entered the medical field to secure a high-paying job and change the world; But after hustling through all those years of school, you may feel overwhelmed by your student loan debt. If you feel like you’re drowning in a deluge of student loan debt, you’re not alone.

Experts estimate the average med school grad is saddled with paying back $200,000 or more in student loans, an amount that can only grow with time and interest. This number can be crushing, even when you’re on the cusp of entering a lucrative job market.

So, how can we tame this beast and begin to beat back our medical school debt? Student debt doesn’t have to define your future. Let’s discuss some debt management strategies that can help reduce your financial stress and chip away at your seemingly ever-growing student loan debt.

1. Consider Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Choosing an income-driven repayment plan (IDR) can help reduce your monthly payment amount when you first graduate from med school. It can be difficult to afford large loan payments while in residency or searching for a new medical job. If you have federal loans, you can peruse a variety of plans that are tailored to fit your income rather than your large debt amount.

Consider an Income-Driven Repayment plan or Pay-As-You-Earn plan to help you tackle your federal student loans on even the most meager post-grad salary.

2. Consider Loan Forgiveness Plans

There are many loan forgiveness and repayment assistance plans available for doctors. There is potential for loan forgiveness through PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness) upon completing 10 years of public service as a physician. While your public service may require hard work for lower pay, it can be extremely rewarding to help others in need while paying off a chunk of your student loan debt.

3. Don’t Defer Repayment

Many medical school grads choose to defer their loans while in residency, essentially pausing their plan for repayment. While it can seem like a good idea to save money now, you are only furthering your student loan stress and lengthening the years you’ll spend repaying your debt.The more you put it off, the more your debt will grow as it continues to collect interest.

In the event that you need to defer your repayment for a short amount of time, be sure you are at least paying down the interest to keep that number from rising too high while you’re in residency. Using a student loan debt calculator can help you form a realistic picture in your mind of what deferring for a 3-year residency can cost you.

4. Prioritize Your Payments

When you finally find the medical job of your dreams, it may seem like you’re swimming in cash. Even though you now have a higher salary, living within your means can help you pay down your debt faster. Keep living like a resident and cut costs where you can to prioritize your payments and crush your student loan debt.

Paying extra can also greatly reduce the amount of interest you accrue over time. Once you’re making good money, consider paying more than the standard payment each month, or putting a tax return or signing bonus on your loan balance when you can. All of these extra payments add up and can take years off your repayment.

Conclusion

Student loan debt can seem overwhelming after medical school, but you don’t have to let that foreboding number hang over your head forever. When you formulate a plan to manage your debt and take control of your future, you’ll be able to watch that number shrink before your eyes.

By prioritizing your repayment, living within your means, paying more when you can, and exploring debt forgiveness and repayment options, you can reduce your debt and begin to enjoy the medical career you’ve worked so hard for.

 
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