Hello and Avoiding Financial Ruination

Hi All…I’m really glad I found this forum. I just completed a BSHS in Physiology from our College of Med here in Southern AZ. I’m 34 and was tired of being one of only three people over the age of 30 in the program. I was lucky that one of the others was a combat veteran, as well. It’s great to meet others on this same path for once.

My issues are probably not dissimilar to those facing many who have come to this forum before me. I have two young sons, one will start kindergarten next year and the other is a newborn. Child care costs are completely out of control and I’m the primary breadwinner.

I struggle with destroying my family financially and seeing my youngest “parked” in a state-funded-type daycare center while I borrow and borrow to pay our bills every month. I have been able to send my older boy to a good pre-education and he speaks more Spanish than I do…I’d like the same for my 2nd.

Even with something like HPSP from the Army and another term of service I fear we will be in really bad straits for several years until I’m done. I also don’t want to wait for another four or five years, but have considered doing an MPH in the interim and going that route.

Anyone been here? Did you go anyway and make it work? Thanks for any advice and it’s nice to “meet” you all.


Hi Jeff.

I feel your pain. I am already in HUGE debt from my PharmD degree. Still owe close to $200K and NOW I want to follow the dream I should have the first time.

My husband supports me whether I do it or not, BUT I hate the thought of going into more debt. Even with the increase in pay I would get, it is a huge pill (no pun intended) to swallow–not to mention 10 years down the line . He doesn’t make enough to support us while I go to school so I would have to take out some loans to supplement.

I also have the GI bill and have considered doing HPSP which would help me ALOT though I really don’t want to go back into the military (plus I am worried I wouldn’t get the specialty I want).

I don’t really have an answer for you, just wanted you to know others are in the same boat as you. It is such a hard decision.

I haven’t even taken the MCAT yet (studying for it now), but the thought of more debt makes me want to forget about it. Then I remember that this is what I have wanted to do since I was 10.

I’m more than a decade older and feel that mathmatically I have a greater urgency to finish up pre-req’s/undergrad work faster than most. Thus there are days when I wish I could quit working, borrow money and attend school full time.

I also lived the “credit cards, new cars with new car loans and a 100% mortgaged house American dream” many years ago.


Despite the intense time pressure I feel, I still haven’t taken a class I can’t pay cash for up front, still work 3 jobs and haven’t shorted the family financially at all. Time yes, but no dollars yet.

My thought is if I can really get myself in a position to make an application and get accepted I’ll quit and do the loan things, but not until it is much more certain that I am actually going to be a physician.

The issue of overwhelming debt is an issue close to me personally. I remember paying late fees on credit cards for the 21% interest I owed on what was probably a night out 5 years earlier. What craziness! What hubris on my part! I discovered that the borrower is truly slave to the lender.

With that all said, I believe that I will have to borrow as much as $150,000 for medical school should I be so fortunate to attend. I will be able to do that because of the work we did to become debt free. We own our home, our vehicles, etc without loans, and we have saved enough to live on for four years plus some extra for tuition. I always encourage others to aspire to a the debt free goal first. It lends so much flexibility to the choices that will be coming for (hopefully) all of us. I really feel for those people who have to juggle the grades, the family time, the academic pressure and then have to worry about money on top of all that!

With you having your undergrad done, but worrying about debt, what does a MPH give you? If you aren’t going to med school for two years wouldn’t spending two years with your family becoming debt free make med school easier in 2014?

Good luck with your choices!


Good advice, Crepitus!

I dug myself out from debt left over from marriage (we split the credit cards), and managed to get clear EVENTUALLY with 3 small kids, grad school, and later kids colleges. I wish I had been able to save more before starting this path.

At my age, I didn’t have the time to spend more years earning so started from ground zero and am incurring a boatload of debt. Had thought I would get a NHSC Scholarship but no such luck first 2 years and as I am not from a disadvantaged background (and an NHSC official told me all the scholarships the last 2 years went to students from disadvantaged backgrounds) I guess I will have to muddle thru.

But doing an MPH prior to med school vs working and getting on better financial footing does not make much sense to me.


Crepitus: Great point! I’ve worked and worked to try and get us as clear of monetary obligations as possible. I went back to Iraq as a DA Civilian many years ago because the pay was so great and that covered 1/3 of my house…which is walking distance from the school I attended and from the med school I hope to attend. It also blew away all of the debt we had back then but you know how it goes…