1) Are/were you able to defer or reduce any loan payments while in residency?
Yes, I'm planning to defer loan payments. Obviously, interest continues to accumulate. Another option many people are taking are the income based and income contingent repayment plans.
2) How long do you expect it will take you to pay off your loans?
Not sure. We plan to live fairly conservatively for a few years out of residency and aggressively pay down student loans as well as put some money towards retirement. In theory, you can take 30 years to pay them off, but the amount of interest you accumulate is astronomical. It wasn't so bad back in the days when the interest rates were <3% on student loans, but now they are at ~6.8%.
3) How much did you owe in student loans right after medical school?
~$180,000 (med school, graduate school, and post-bacc combined.)
4) What are your estimated loan payments?
I don't recall at the moment. I chose the 30 year graduated extended payment plan (where your payments start lower and then get higher over 30 years) because I wanted some flexibility in how much I need to pay right out of residency. I plan to pay them off far sooner than that, though.
The AAMC has loan calculators. I also recommend you check out the presentation at http://www.aamc.org/programs/first/traini ng/mdeconomics.htm
. It gives a very good synopsis of some of the common repayment strategies and how much it will cost. Of course, the rules change constantly.