I've got a question maybe some of you can help
I'm in the middle of pre med core and have a couple of years to go if I decide the MD route over PA. One reason I'm seriously considering PA is that my husband and I sometimes don't get along. We've come close to separating many times this past year and are trying to hold on and work things out. I know how stressful med school can be on a marriage.
If for some reason this doesn't work out I'm an unemployed full time student. No income outside of student loans. How do those of you who don't work and attend full time handle it? I should be pretty close to debt free by the time I start med school. Do you rely on financial aid?
I'm just new at all of this and also concerned about the future. I have to make a decision on which way to go. I'm not planning on divorce, and I hope things work out, but you just never know what the future holds and I like to be prepared.

Hi there,
There are a couple of considerations that you may need to think about. If you have children involved, it is pretty difficult to live out of the student loan allowance. It is very hard for one person but with children, it is near impossible unless you have a working spouse or significant other.
You will not be able to do much work while you are a medical student. If you are a nurse or RT, you can pick up a stray shift here and there on holidays and some vacations but you have to make sure that you can do all of your expenses out of the meager allowance that you will have. If your credit is good, you can borrow more but the interest rates are pretty high and those outside loans are not deferred during residency. You will have to pay them back while you are making $30,000 or so.
The other consideration is that you will probably put most of your energies into studying and getting things done during medical school. If you marriage is shaky before medical school, it may come apart at the seams when you start. You really don’t want any distractions so get your situation settled before you commit to medicine. My dean always said that, " Medicine is a demanding mistress". Try to have your life as simple as possible. Easy commute, easy to get your laundry done, easy to find food when you are tired, easy to get to the gym etc.
Good luck with your journey.
Natalie cool.gif

Thanks Natalie. There aren't children involved. My daughters are over 20 and my son is 16. By the time I start he'll be in college too. I spent my life raising them, so now I finally have time to accomplish my dreams. By the way, I'm 43 and we've been married 21 years.
I believe if my marriage is going to fall apart it will whether I do pre-med or even just do PA, I'm just concerned about how I'll support myself if it happens. We're really trying hard to work it out, but some days are better than others. I don't want to get part way through it and have the bottom fall out. This is why I was considering a shorter program.
As far as finances go with the exception of one credit card I'm debt free now, and by the time I get there I hope to have it paid off, or close. This is my goal so that I'll make it with as little stress as possible.
It would be horrible to have your dream not realized because of something like this. I guess time will tell about my marriage. I'll just have to pray that we've reconciled everything by then.
Your advice helps.

Hey qq23,
While I’m not in med school and can’t speak from that side but I did do my Ugrad and masters only with financial aid and working. You will get enough of it to pay sor school and to live but it’s probably going to involve living a much more modest life style than you may be used to. Also there will be a large bill to show for all that “modesty”. On the other hand, you will probably be so busy in med school that you won’t have time to notice your lifestyle and the debt is just something that’s a matter of fact for most people. Natalie has a very good point of living simply. Hopefully you and your husband can get things squared away between the two of you. Either way med shool will take a lot but, I’m confident not more than you can give.

Young single students without family help have the same dilemma. What most people do is borrow for both tuition and living expenses. I don’t know if other graduate or professional programs make such generous loans available, but loan companies figure that future doctors are a pretty good loan risk (they’re right; fewer than 1% default on their student loans). So they are happy to make substantial loans to future DOs and MDs.
The way it works is, the school you’ll attend as a medical student will draw up something called a “student budget,” and the financial aid office will help you borrow enough money to meet that budget - which includes tuition, fees, and living expenses. What Natalie is pointing out is that the student budget is not generous, and it does not account for things like children, other financial obligations such as car payments or mortgages, etc. It’s pretty bare-bones, but it IS enough to live on.
Something else to think about - if you DO end up single at some point in this adventure, your income will then be $0 and you’ll be eligible for additional scholarship/grant money, and maybe low-cost loans. I know someone who was in kinda the opposite situation from you - she deferred marrying her s.o. until med school was over, because she would have lost a lot of financial aid had they married sooner. My husband and I joked that maybe we should get divorced so I’d qualify for more aid! But seriously, even though on paper I don’t qualify for anything, I am able to borrow for my entire tuition bill, and would be able to get a private lender to loan me living expenses if I needed to.
And one other thing to consider: while these generous loan programs are available to medical students, I don’t know what’s available for PA students. So you’re right, the program is shorter and the indebtedness is less, but you might actually not be able to live as a PA student unless you’d salted away your living expenses in advance.
Bottom line is, you won’t starve as a medical student.

One small added benefit, if your son (and-or your other children) are still attending college and under either 23 or 25 at the time you apply for financial aid, this could boost your status. The cap, or maximum allowable, might not chage substantially, but you should be able to max-out the subsidized portion of the allowable loan amount. This will save you considerable $$ in the long run.
Regarding living on loans – yes, it is very possible, esp in the context of your being “debt-free”. Now, that may entail living in student housing and eating a few beans ‘N’ weenies along the way…but, if ya want it badly enough, it’ll be worth the sacrifice.
Many many have gone before you and accommplished this. Why can’t you?

Thanks so much for the advice. I've been slow to reply due to christmas. It eases my mind to know that if anything were to happen I'd be able to finish. I've lived modestly before and would be able to again if the need arised. Now I just have to make up my mind. Basically it's either 3 yrs or 6.
I'll keep you guys posted as to how I decide. There are pro's and con's to both sides.