This topic has come up a few times on this forum and I wanted to share with you some of the options I’ve been considering and perhaps it may help some of you. The important thing to keep in mind is that you have to do what’s feels right for you and your situation. What I am suggesting may or may not work for you. If you’re looking for a good resource, I recommend you start with the AAMC website (https://www.aamc.org/services/first/) or this US News article (http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/medic al-school-admissions-doct or/2011/11/14/how-to-pay- for-medical-school)
Quick background about me: Engineer with 9 years in the field, married to amazing wife, energetic toddler and another on the way
The state school which I’ll be attending this August estimates the cost of attendance to be $30k a year for tuition and $28k for living expenses. This is a pretty fair estimate for someone that is single and moving to a low cost area but for a family of four, I need to factor in $24k for daycare and throw in another $10k for increased expenses on food, health insurance, utilities, etc. That brings a total of $62k a year for living expenses or $92k if you include tuition. Since that’s a significant amount to pay on a yearly basis, my wife and I have discussed our options and have decided that she will continue to work for 1-2 more years to minimize our reliance on loans and our savings. The rest we’ll take care of with a mixture of savings and loans.
I’ve sketched out below what I figure our expenses will be each year. For years 3 and 4 I bumped up the living expenses after my wife quits working since our health insurance will go up and I’m sure my wife will want to take our kids to all kinds of activities as they get older.
MS1: $30K Tuition + $24k Daycare + $38k Living Expenses = $92k
MS2: $30K Tuition + $24k Daycare + $38k Living Expenses = $92k
MS3: $30K Tuition + $45k Living Expenses = $75k
MS4: $30K Tuition + $45k Living Expenses = $75k
- Student Loan for tuition - My financial aid package consist of 2 loans (Federal Direct Grad Plus loans at 7.9% and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans at 6.8%) which total $58k. I’m going to borrow $30k of that and use it to pay for tuition.
- Wife’s income will go to paying day care costs and a few living expenses for the first two years. I was the major breadwinner in the house so the loss of my income is going to be tough but we’ll manage.
- Retirement accounts - I’m a bit hesitant to share this information but we have enough to withdraw a minimum of $20k a year for four years. One of the few smart decisions I’ve made was to start saving for retirement with my first job out of college. Although I’d rather not tap into it, I also don’t want to burden my family with additional debt. I plan on converting my 401k to an IRA so I can withdraw from it without paying the 10% penalty using the education exception (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf#page=56) After year 4, I may end up using the rest of my retirement savings to pay off some of my student loans early. However, for now, I want to keep my options open.
Additional backup sources for income:
- Student Loans - I can borrow the rest of the $58k that I didn’t use to pay for tuition.
- Scholarships - I didn’t get any scholarships from the school I plan on going to but I’ll be applying to several when I start.
- Reduce Living Expenses - We can always reduce our living expenses further (ex. downsize to one car, take the bus, etc) but it’s a bit harder with a family of four.
- Home Equity Loan or Refinance mortgage - Our house that we’ve had for awhile now has some equity we can tap into. Again, not preferable but it’s a card we have in play.
- Borrow from parents - keeping as last resort even though they’ve been gracious enough to offer
Although I’ve decided the following options weren’t for me (this post is getting way too long for me to explain my thought process here), I think there are some excellent opportunities for paying for medical school via other means. I think the military offers an excellent scholarship program where they pay you a stipend of about $2200 a month while you’re going to school. The MSTP is another way to go if you’re keenly interested in doing research and getting a PhD on top of your MD.
Some other options to consider:
- NHSC Scholarship Program, http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/scholarships/overview /index.h…
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgivene …
- Health Professions Scholarship Program, http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/navmedmpte/acce ssion…
- Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/InstPredoc/P redo…
My last piece of advice is to not worry about paying for medical school until after the MCAT. Mainly because that test is stressful enough to spend time worrying about something else. That being said, if you’re a few years away from applying, it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead and maybe save a little bit more than you already are doing.
Good luck and see you guys in medical school.