Quitting for Financial Reasons?

Many of us have worked so long to get here it may be taboo to discuss, but I need to ask… Do any of you know someone who has left medical school for financial reasons? Has the outcome ever been good?

I’m wrapping up M2 (good academic standing), but I feel like I’m reaching the end of my financial rope. I didn’t have much money throughout my 20’s, but I’ve always been able to get GradPLUS loans for postbacc and med school.

The loans are pretty tight, however, and every time there’s an outside expense there’s a scramble. It’s become a significant detractor from my studies and educational opportunities, and since I’m more interested in public health I don’t foresee it easing during residency and beyond. I’m not even sure how to pay for residency interviews, to be honest…

I understand that I will be severely limiting my job prospects by leaving medical school, but I’m feeling more trapped by my financial situation than enlightened and empowered by my education, and I don’t want to do a disservice toward my profession. Any suggestions?

jfr18 - I thought I was going to have to leave in the middle of my second year (this year). I have a house which I was unable to sell when I started med school. It developed foundation problems 2 years ago requiring an expdensive repair. At that time my parents (retired themselves) lent me some money from their savings to get it repaired so I could put it one the market. This year, the OTHER side of the foundation settled and cracked requiring similar VERY expensive repair. I have nothing. Thought I would have to drop out of school, work at least a year in nursing to acquire the money for the foundation repair and maybe be able to return. But my (76 year old) Mom said “No WAY are you leaving med school” - and she and my brother split the cost - knowing that on it’s eventual sale we will probably not get that money back.

Now at the end of year 2, trying to squeek by till next disbursement for year 3. The anxiety can be crippling at time (and cause insomnia).

I can offer what I do. Pray about it. Seriously, I feel that this pursuit is a calling, and I try to leave my worries to God (not always successfuly Because you want to go into public health, it will be easy for you to find loan reimbursement. I am continuing, with third year, to apply for the NHSC scholarship, which would really relieve this stress. That would cover 3rd and 4th year tuition and give me a stipend towards living expenses. But my budget would be the same - I’d just be borrowing less - so those emergency expenses are a problem. Application closes May 8th (this Tuesday) - still waiting on one of my LOR’s. But if I again don’t get it, I will simply plan on trying to get Loan Repayment (which is easier to obtain) : from NHSC, Indian Health Service, the state, or even some hospitals. If you are pursuing public health / primary care - just persisting will bring you to a viable footing.

The way loan repayment works, say from NHSC, is that they give you $50,000 at the start of the year that you begin practice at the high-need health practitioner shortage area, paid to your lender. This does not simply reduce your balance - it counts toward successive payments so you should have no further payments come due that year (or very little, if you have HUGE debt like I am likely to). So, you can live on your starting salary.

My school has available an additional emergency loan for short term expenses - haven’t gone there yet.

I can’t say how you can weather unexpected expenses (a radiator going bad in your car, for example). But I’d encourage you to try. I’m fortunate in that my family is investing in helping me get thru. It’s difficult and embaressing at my age to take this help, but they remind me of my free medical advice over the years (as a nurse) and note that they are counting on me to finish and be a fully qualified physician. They have banked up a LOT of free care:).

One last thought: the expense of SOME residency interviews is generally figured into your cost of attending school (for the loan calculations) by financial aid for 4th year. Make a quick visit to the financial aid office and ask for a copy of hte 4th year budget and you can check this out. So it may be covered by your loan disbursement.

Best wishes in whatever you decide.


Thanks for the input, Licia…

Unfortunately I don’t have any family (my parents passed away in the spring, which added another set of financial concerns), and my school currently does not permit interview expenses to be included in the cost of M4 (although our AAMC reps are working on trying to change that, at my incessant nagging).

It’s too late for the NHSC and HPSP scholarships, but I’ve decided to just stick it out. As for residency interviews, I’ll have to see how my Step 1 scores pan out ;), but hopefully I will have enough choices within driving distance near friends with couches. I’m also looking into non-HPSP military options, which may allow me to be assigned to a milmed residency, and could allow a smoother transition to the Public Health Corps (where I’d like to end up) once I repay my service commitment.

Stay the course, I can’t give relevant feedback in terms of resources. Your goal is to become a physican and practice, that is what you must and will do. It will work out.

  • jlr18 Said:
I'm also looking into non-HPSP military options, which may allow me to be assigned to a milmed residency, and could allow a smoother transition to the Public Health Corps (where I'd like to end up) once I repay my service commitment.

Look into the FAP (Financial Assistance Program). It is a program run by the military that offers residents/fellows an annual grant, monthly stipend, and reimbursement for books and various equipment and fees. In return, they serve as Active Duty Officers for a minimum of 2 years. Recipients also perform a 14-day Active Duty Training (ADT) tour every year of financial assistance awarded. These ADTs are performed at your residency/fellowship location.

I would recommend progressing as a normal med student and resident. If you do primary care, then looking at FAP for the military would be a reasonable option as your pay would be comperable or better in the military with little to no call. However, if you become a specialist or go into a high-demand specialty, then I would recommend not going the military route but going into private practice as your signing bonus and salary will be double that of what you would get in he military (with better hours and call schedule).