Finances taking a toll

It seems as though I am running in circles, trying to make ends meet while staying in school and realizing the cost of daycare is going to exacerbate our financial situation. I have a useless degree that has actually cost me more applications than it is worth and so I struggle to pay bills by working at a fast food joint for pennies. I’m terrified at this point that my dreams of med school may be dashed for nothing more than financial reasons as I see our debt to income ratio steadily increase and yet, at our current state, I see no way to quit school because student loans will come out of deferrment and, Mc Donalds is not going to pay off that debt at all. This truely has become tough for a family barely teetering on the border of poverty level. We qualify for most assistance programs out there with both of us working and yet I try hard to use as few as possible, knowing to become dependent upon them will make things worse.

I understand there are programs out there to assist with actual med school, but currently it’s the PRE med that is the problem financially, and search as I might I can’t seem to find scholarships/grants or any financial helps for our situation other than loans. Please tell me there is something out there. Goodness, I’d be happy with a better paying job, but the economy as it is just isn’t looking for someone with my availability. I’ve been turned down for jobs on account of my class schedule and even the fact that I have a religious undergrad degree in spite of me being anything but (was once told I would not be able to handle the cussing that took place in the work zone with my background lol). Military life is beginning to look more appealing, and yet I swore I’d never go that route. Hmmm…Ok. Brain storm with me before my husband becomes convinced we will be living in a cardboard box for the duration of my education.

Have you looked into jobs available at your college/university? Full-time employees can attend classes at 90% discounted tuition/fees. I knew one pre-med student from UK who worked as a full-time administrator at her university and was allowed to take a couple of classes.

My college, like many, is cutting back positions right now. Other than work study (which would only pay minimum wage and I make a tiny bit more than that now), thus far I’ve found no positions that would work around my schedule.

My friend keeps pressing me to go the same route she did with the Army. I’m hesitant, mostly because I’m a big fat chicken and secondarily I have a real ache to work in rural america, where I perceive the greatest need for healthcare is. Being tied to the Army for many years could hinder that, but I guess after choking on it a bit, it’s not as horrid as it sounds (barring the big fat scaredy pants when I think of going to war part).

I guess I’ll sit down and talk to her about the logistics of it all. I’m not calling a recruiter until I’m definite as to what I want to do. I know I could handle it. I wonder about my kids though. I survived life as an army brat, but I was not the child to cry every time mommy or daddy was not there. I have an 8 year old that sobs like you have died if you spend a night away from home, so that has me concerned.

I don’t know, I keep weighing the options and if I really want to practice medicine, this is starting to look like one of the few out there for a married white female with a bogus undergrad degree.


I feel your frustration. I had to leave my job because the team really needs a full time person and I wasn’t able to be a viable resource for them due to school and volunteering. Private loans aren’t even an option since I don’t qualify for one without a cosigner (which I don’t want to use). Chances are, I’m probably going to have to cash in my 401k to make it through the last year of premed. I’ve gone back and fourth on whether or not this is a good idea but what matters most to me now is finishing what I started and making sure that I do well. I hope something comes your way to help you financially.

Maybe we should start pulling together for a mega millions ticket each month. LOL

Hi, Susan.

I feel your pain. The financial part of this journey is tough and living with very little adds to the already stressful occupations of student, mother, wife, employee, volunteer, etc. Sometimes I feel a little jealous of my traditional pre-med counterparts because they don’t always realize what a luxury it is to have school paid for, no family to support, and almost unlimited amount of time to study.

So, first of all, take a deep breath and make a decision not to panic. If you panic, you may make decisions that you regret. To me, the army sounds like a panic decision, that you want to do because of money rather than real desire to join the army.

While I appreciate that you are trying to use very little government aid as possible, what about day care assistance? A lot of states offer help with day care costs so that parents can work and pursue education. The idea is that ultimately you’re trying to make a better life for your family. Help with day care costs may relieve some of the pressure, especially since day care these days costs about the same as a mortgage.

I know that loans are scary, but maybe necessary. Pursuing a dream can be an expensive proposition when that dream does not have any guarantee of repayment. However, you are pursuing a career that you absolutely have the motivation and intelligence to achieve. What about applying for a rural primary care scholarship for medical school? Can you apply for scholarships and grants at your school, that will help you now?

Just trying to suggest ideas. My situation is definitely cash poor right now. We have to pay for my classes out of pocket, I have a son who will be going to day care in the fall, my husband is a grad student, and we are badly in need of a decent car. I feel your pain. But, like all things in life, this period is temporary. It will end and I will get into medical school and my husband will finish grad school and we’ll be on our way to a better financed life. So, take heart. Things will change.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, that something will come through and give you a little breathing room during these tougher pre-med years.

Perhaps military is a panic decision. I tend to toss it around every few months, just never actually verbalizing it. I will not, however, jump into it without analyzing all aspects. If it’s something I’m going to do, I will go into it eyes wide open. I’m not a stranger to the lifestyle entirely. And actually out of all my siblings I’m the only one who stayed a civilian once I was too old to carry my DoDD ID card.

I suppose I’m merely thinking out loud right now, trying to sort it all in my mind, more than anything. The important part is finishing what I started. I just don’t want to end up in a cardboard box to do that.

The rural grants are really where my druthers lie since that is where I want to be at the end of this journey anyway.

I keep looking for scholarship and grant options. I’m sure there’s something out there, I just haven’t found any I qualify for yet. I did sit down and speak with my boss regarding scheduling today for the upcoming semester. I told her I need as many hours as possible while fitting an hour or two of sleep in there somewhere lol. I also sucked up my fear and brought up the fact that I’m due for a six month review soon and was hoping a pay increase could be discussed then as I really need to pay a babysitter.

Sadly one of the few programs I don’t qualify for is the daycare assistance. Here you have to be employed at least ten hours a week (that’s fine as I work much more than that anyway) and taking 10 credit hours. I can only afford to take 2 classes which works out to only 8 credits so I’m out there.

I’ll figure it out. It may take me rambeling every now and then here, but figuring it out is the only option I have so, that’s what I will do.

Thank you for the kind words and the affirmation that I’m not the only one here surviving off of pennies.

  • HugzMonster Said:
Chances are, I'm probably going to have to cash in my 401k to make it through the last year of premed. I've gone back and fourth on whether or not this is a good idea but what matters most to me now is finishing what I started and making sure that I do well.

Hugz, just sharing my two cents here, and I'm certainly not a financial advisor!

I understand not wanting to use a co-signer, however I think in this situation you should strongly consider it over using your 401K. You will likely take a large hit to your 401K if you cash out now. If it's the only option, then you don't have much choice in pursuit of your dream, but I think advisors would suggest you not do it unless it truly is the only option.

Good luck on finishing up pre-med!

Susan -

Whenever I get a little down about finances and the long path ahead, I think about that movie “Happyness.” That father and son made huge sacrifices in order to have a better future. If you haven’t seen it, cuddle up with some popcorn and watch it, because you’ll feel uplifted and motivated to continue.

As someone who will be an underpaid military physician (and happy to be serving again), DO NOT go the military route for the money. You will be miserable. Go the military route of you want to serve soldiers (and airmen, sailors and marines).

hey LC2Doc: is your first degree in anything you could tutor in? I’ve tutored before and made okay money ($20-30/hr). If so, put up an ad on Craigslist or on bulletin boards at your local college. (FWIW, I used to tutor English for ESL students primarily, which is really easy!)

My first degree is in church music. I couldn’t land a job with it when I was into the church scene. Now that I’m not into the church scene…well, um…there’s a tiny problem isn’t there? lol

But, I assume “church music” also includes performance of said music, correct? Can you not teach music lessons…sans the ‘church’ component?

Another idea, are you using student loans? Fed student loans do not require credit worthiness and are basically guaranteed. If you are not using them, you should seriously consider doing so.

Lastly, the public assistance thing: in my mind, the reason those programs were created is to give a man/woman a helping hand when theywere down. they are meant to be a bridge to get you to a better place financially. I agree vehemently that they were never intended to be life-long or multi-generational support. However, for someone like yourself, who simply needs financial assistance to support an aspiration to get to a better place in life - that is wh I & all of the rest of us pay those taxes. In the long run, the more people who get to a “better place”, the less reliance there is on these programs. I say use them as you are able and then get off of them when you are able to do so.

“We qualify for most assistance programs out there with both of us working and yet I try hard to use as few as possible, knowing to become dependent upon them will make things worse.”

Pardon, I dont know your situation, but if you’re in the application stage you should be able to qualify for fee waivers. if you’re doing a postbacc, then you should qualify for some sort of loans.

I would also question the assumption about dependence there. If you need help, and it is being offered, and you are not taking advantage of it, then it seems to me like you value your pride more than your goal. If that’s the case, then i think it prudent to at least revisit and re-examine what a career in medicine means to you and why you are pursuing it.

FTR, i’ve been on public assistance a number of times. i was in trouble, i needed help, i got it, and i’m no longer in trouble now. we pay taxes to fund that sort of thing for a reason. in my experience, the vast majority of people who use it are not dependent on it long-term.

I am post bacc. I’ve taught in the past and it wasted more of my time than I brought in even insisting students pay for a month up front. Once they start skipping lessons, they tend to back out of their commitment entirely and I’m left looking for more students. I taught for about three-five years and never really garnered a base of students large enough to support myself.

Let me rephrase regarding assistance, I am on some forms. My children receive health insurance and we have food stamps. I never qualified for medical assistance and could not afford it on my own for years until our state implimented a subsidized program. So I do pay for it, but at a discounted rate.

There are forms I’d rather not use such as WIC being we don’t consume those products often with the food allergies in this house. It would be wasteful and take away from others who need the help. I don’t qualify for daycare assistance and there are no such helps for transportation costs lol.

Pride only comes into play when I endure the countless conversations of others who claim welfare recipients are lazy good for nothings who sit on their arse all day mooching off of tax dollars. Some days I pipe up and ask if they think I am lazy, being I work, go to school and volunteer. Other days I have no energy to pipe up. Other days I’m tired of being on assistance as most of our marriage we have had some form of help due to the churches we pastored paying well below poverty level and not permiting us outside jobs. I feel like I’ve been “helped” enough and it’s time to work on giving back most days, even though I know I’m not in a place to pay it forward yet.

The problem comes into play though, when I realize I do not qualify for daycare assistance, and student loans barely cover my 8 credits a semester. I have no access to government grants being I already have a bachelor’s. There’s simply no way right now to go full time to get access to more loans. It would be financially foolish at this point to add to our debt, plus I’d never see my children.

I suppose I could start marketing myself once more for performance, but honestly it takes more effort than it is worth and I need to focus my energies on orgo, not memorizing “Con te partiro”.

All that sounded pathetically hopeless. It’s not really. I do tend to talk this through in my head often and try to come up with better solutions. The economy is rather pitiful here (as it is most places), and there is no industry. However, I do search job sites daily and occasionally find something possible. My problem with employment is the class schedule. However, this week I am looking up. I had an interview for a first responder position and it would be a few dollars more per hour, plus more hours than Mc Ds. So cross your fingers there, pray, eat noodles, whatever it is you prefer. This particular position would permit 12-24 hour shifts and I could be very close to full time status only working a few days a week. It would be hard work, but it would free up the rest of the week for studying and family time AND the best part is that it is in health care and away from encouraging obesity by asking if people would like to “super size that?”

I’m glad my assumptions about the pride thing turned out to be wrong, and thanks for challenging them.

I wish I could offer more advice.

That’s o.k. rigel. I tend to figure these things out eventually. I’ve tossed the military thing around multiple times before. It’s a familiar life for me being raised with a dad in the Army. It’s very enticing in that aspect, but the thing that’s kept me from pursuing…ok…more than one thing. I’m a big fat chicken and could never pull a gun on someone, not even in combat. And two just boot camp away from my kids for 6-9 weeks makes me want to cry like a little girl. LOL.

I’m still holding out hope for this EMS job. It’s only entry level and I need to find an EVOC class stat, but it’s still in medicine and that would make for a very happy me. In the meantime, at least I have a job and I enjoy working with the people who work the same shift as me, so all in all things could be worse. I just hope the hours don’t start to interfere with my studying as that becomes more important than the job in August.

Ugh, I definitely feel your pain. My husband is supporting us right now, and he makes a decent amount to suppport a family of 4 and still have money left over for miscellaneous things. Still, we’ve had to take out student loans to pay for classes and childcare. We look at it as an expense we’ll have to deal with now, and pay off when I’m making a good amount as a physician. Sometimes it’s the only way.

Good luck in whatever you decide!