Are we supposed to live off loans or what?

Consider me dense for thinking of this at this late hour but lets say that if a person gets accepted to medical school; not married, no kids, no car payment, no morgage, quit his or her job to go to school…

How then are they supposed to live? Say pay for shelter, gas, food, etc? Honestly are we supposed to live off of our loans for the next four years and then live off of a meager resident salary for (x) amount of years after that??

If so, how much does this supposed “loan salary” amount to per year? 15k, 20k, 30k? (on average)

Honestly, if we quit our nice career to go back to school full time how are we supposed to get by for the next four years without a normal income? I mean savings can only take one so far, eh?

(appologies for the rant…it’s 430am over here)

Any and all advice would be beneficial, thanks ya’ll!!

Savings then loans. They expect us to be living off ~25k/year. Doable but not pretty. definitely the downside of going back. i know more than a couple people who decided against going to med school after getting accepted and speaking to the financial aid office. Part of the reality for us nontrads is coming to grips with being broke for 7+ years. Count the cost…

Good advice…damn good advice.

My “budget” …ie the school’s projection of my living expenses which determines what I am eligible for in loans beyond tuition - was 23,500 for my first year. Think it’s 25,000 this year. They include$650/mo for rent, plus an estimate for utilities ($150 for electricity, $120 for heat, $75 for telephone, $90 for water/sewer/cable/trash )for 10 months (I guess they figure you are working for 2 months during the summer to live on ), $275/mo grocereis plus $75/mo restaurants. $180/month gasoline and oil for car, $97/mo for car4 insurance and $52/mo car maintenance. Health insurance $2500/yr (mine is more) plus $50 insurance deductable (mine is more) plus $900/yr clothing (seriously? They told me I might spend this much when in year 4 for interview clothes), $50/mo recration and $75/mo emergencies.

Residency salaries seem to be in the $50,000’s and you can apply for income-based loan repayment so instead of having to fork up $3000/month for loans during residency it would drop down leaving you enough to live on during residency.


Awesome! awesome snapshot of a typical budget. Now I have a good template to work off of.

Thanks Kate!

You’re welcome! Thought it might be helpful. Oh, left out the $200 for an optometry visit and the $300 for a dental visit.


What’s hard is that they only give you a budget for you…not your family. There is a little wiggle room, there, but not much. So even though I have a husband and three children and WAS the biggest earner in my home, I don’t get any special consideration for the 180 degree change in our household. Childcare for an infant? $200 a week… That’s just one expense. It’s crazy. So we have to radically shift everything over the next four years (which is one of the reasons my husband is now working in Afghanistan…trying to put back moolah for this endeavor.). In the case of an entire family, the loans sometimes just won’t cut it. One of the many more unique challenges we face as OPMers.

In residency, you do start earning again…programs around here start at about 50k, but remember that you also have to start paying on those loans, too (unless you defer somehow).

My company has a cool stipend program that I plan to apply for once in residency…you commit to work in a community served by one of our hospitals for two years, and they give you an additional 1-3k per month on top of your residency salary ($varies by specialty and need…it’s usually higher for primary care). It will definitely help start taking chunks out of that loan balance.

It’s all doable. And every physician I know says “don’t worry about the loans. Necessary evil, and lots of jobs will even help you pay them off…it’s just a part of it.” But when you get started later, you DO have to plan/strategize around them, I think, and just be a little more aware of all the possible pitfalls.

Having fun yet?

My school (NYMC) was good about spelling out budgets for each year - here is a link for a new student in the Class of 2016 - lAid/StudentFinancialPlan ning/Budgets/Medicine/New First/index.html

If the school you are looking at doesn’t have it on their site, then call the financial aid office and I’m sure they will have something for you.

If somebody chooses not to go to medical school due to the debt, then medicine isn’t for them. Yes, you have to bootstrap for several years, but it is doable - 20,000 students every year do it.

I went into medical school with a car loan and credit card debt - again - I had very little advice going to school, and didn’t seek out any help on forums like this. Due to that, I had to work my first 2 1/2 years of medical school - again - not smart!

Live and learn!

Julio Cesar do as Doc Gray suggested and look at the schools you are interested in. My figures come from the schools I’m looking at. I figure they’d all be about the same…unless you get accepted to WVCOM as an out-of-state (OOS) student… CRAZY TUITION!!!

Thanks again to all you that have posted.

I was curious because since I’m a resident of TX the yearly tuition is not that bad (appx. 14k-28k)

However, I would really like to move out of state to some place out West say Colorado, Oregon, Wash ST. unfortunately the tuition in some of those schools is crazy! Just like Crooz said, upwards of 50k

Big difference…

I’m just wondering if it’s worth it to leave the state?

Julio Cesar - Why would you leave Texas? You guys have the lowest tuition rates in the country. 12K a year for UT Houston? That’s a sweet bargain. 4 years at UT Houston is the same as 1 year tuition at Temple.

If you’re relatively young and single your fixed expenses should not be much. I think you’ll do fine with a “loan salary” of 15 or 20k. Have you tried budgeting it out? Plus, you’re going to be studying all the time. Having no social life does wonders for a budget.

I totally agree…stay where you are, and take advantage of that sweet in-state tuition!!! I get wanting to venture out and explore, but you can do that with your residency match! By all means, apply all over the country…but do it when they pay you, not the other way around!

You’ll be really glad, at the end of this journey, when the debt mountain is smaller than most!

I’m lucky that I am retired from a first career and have some income from that as well as some rental properties. I had been figuring on working heavily through undergrad and then not working at all in med school, but the heavier workload is starting to show in some of my under grad grades so I have been steadily cutting back, so I may consider working some after acceptance. I am familiar with a number of people who worked 2 or 3 shifts a month as paramedics or med students who worked as undergrad TA’s one evening a week so I’m hoping it will be possible.

Also, when I am crunching the numbers, I am using that 50K salary for residency for the first two years and then adding in some for moonlight shift in the 3rd and 4th.

But yes, there is going to be big debt, which is why I have ruthlessly refused to borrow at all for undergrad.

Luck to ya,


NO!!! Do not move out of Texas! There is a reason that it is THE state everyone is moving into and starting businesses. Stay there and go to school there. There is also a reason why they have their own AMCAS just for Texas schools. I would love to be in Texas…because of tuition. Cheapest in the country. If you are concerned about debt then stay put. You can move for residency but stay your buttocks put till after school!

See the thing is if you move to other states for education you will usually never attain in-state status, even if you buy a house. So for all four years you would pay OOS tuition. Not worth it. Just get accepted to Teh-hass and then if you must move, just do so for residency. I mean think about it…you will borrow more for leaving expenses than you would for school. BTW Texas also does some awesome loan repayments to keep physicians and from what I was told it ain’t limited by specialty but it is restricted to Texas trained physicians…

Plus if Texas and the other 21 states do secede you want to be in the 15th biggest economy in the world…


I’m feeling this overwhelming urge to stay in the great state of TEX-MEX…ya’ll!

Thanks again for the advice peeps; it means a hell of a lot to a “young” guy like myself.