If you want to get into the health care field, you’re going to need to dedicate time to planning how you will finance this next chapter of your education and career. Student debt is no joke: 37% of adults say they have outstanding student loans for their education. You need to have a plan before enrolling in classes to start off with the right financial expectations. Below are some options you can use to make sure you can work your way through medical school without bleeding your bank account dry.
Residency and Relocation Loans
Residency and relocation loans are used to cover the expenses associated with residency relocation and travel expenses. This includes traveling for interviews, examination fees and the cost to move. They’re private loans with the rate paid based on your credit or the credit of a cosigner. For example, our partner SallieMae has a loan that lets students borrow between $1,000 to $20,000 to cover expenses for their education. Keep in mind, these loans do not cover your school’s cost of attendance, just the expenses that coincide with residency.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
A long term option is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. It forgives the remaining balance on direct loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments, as long as you’re under a qualifying repayment plan while working full time for a qualifying employer. A qualifying employer would be either a government organization or non-profit organization. Unfortunately, private education loans are not eligible for forgiveness.
Merit aid is awarded by colleges to those they consider to be high-achieving students. These are students who have great grades, excellent test scores or have other impressive accomplishments. You have to be considered above average in academics to be eligible for this financial aid. Good news for those who may feel shy about applying: since there is a decline in those applying to private colleges, more and more programs are increasing the amount of merit scholarships given each year.
Deferment is possible for you and your parents in the case that you are unable to pay off your loans. There are multiple types, the most common being military or fellowship deferments. Other reasons for deferment include that you are enrolled in a disability rehabilitation training program, you are experiencing economic hardship or that you are serving in the Peace Corps. During this time, subsidized loans remain interest free because the government is paying that interest off. Meanwhile, unsubsidized loans will accrue interest that you would be on the hook for once you go back to making loan payments.
Not eligible for deferment? You still may be eligible for forbearance. Forbearance is when your loan payments aren’t required, but your loans are still actively accruing interest. If it’s a case that your federal loans are greater than 20% of your gross monthly income, this may be your best option. If you’re considering this option, take note that you’re most likely eligible for mandatory forbearance. Typically, this covers students who are serving medical and dental internships or serving as members of AmeriCorps. You should be aware that this option can increase your student loan debt.
If you’re doing your own taxes, you will quickly find out that you can get tax deductions and credit from your pursuit of higher education. Services like TurboTax and H&R Block may help, but be sure that you’re filing correctly. You can get education credits, tuition and fee deductions or a student loan deduction. Want to learn more about these deductions and credits? You can reference this technical and informative article covering all of these options by the IRS.
We’ve covered this before: you need to research all possible scholarship options out there. Some will be as easy as filling out a form and writing a 250 word essay in a text box. Others may a bit more complicated with the addition of sending out transcripts or ancestral documents. Some are weird but lucrative, like the $10,000 Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship. If you need help starting your search, check out our handy scholarship search tool, powered by SallieMae. With 3.5 million scholarships worth over $18 billion, you are sure to find the scholarship that works for you.
Do your due diligence and research your options. You will want to do this on your own or with whoever may be helping you pay for your education. Some choices may fit your timeline and expectations. Just make sure that you are picking the option that you can benefit from without emptying your wallet.