October 31, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
It is no secret medical school is expensive, but if you develop a game plan before you start school, finances may be one less thing you have to worry about. One of the biggest mistakes med students probably make when it comes to financial planning for med school is not to plan at all.
Before starting school, you probably have a lot to think about. You may not want to add money to your list of things to consider. Instead, you sign on the dotted line, take out loans and figure you will worry about it later. The problem is, later comes before you know it, and it’s time to repay what you borrowed.
Regardless of where you decide to attend medical school, it will be expensive. The earlier you start considering finances, the better off you will be. That doesn’t mean you have to stress about paying for school. It means you have to consider limiting your undergrad debt if possible and avoid racking up credit card debt. Having medical school finances in the back of your head may help you make good choices and manage your money responsibly.
One of the first things you can do to develop a sound financial plan is to review information on the Association of American Medical Colleges website. A section entitled First for Medical Education has information on different loans available to med students and debt management.
Unless you are independently wealthy, student loans may pay for some of your education. Careful consideration of the different types of loans is an important part of planning financially for med school.
In addition, consider talking to a financial aid officer to learn about different ways to pay for your education, including student loans and loan forgiveness programs. A financial aid officer should be able to point you in the right direction to get any additional information you need to make an informed decision.
Before you apply for loans, make sure you understand the repayment terms and options available. Some types of loans allow you to base repayment amounts on your income. Additionally, pay close attention to interest rates.
While you are in med school, avoid using your credit cards if possible. Having medical school loans and credit card debt after graduating can be overwhelming. Also, keep other bills as low as possible. For example, shop around for cell phone plans and car insurance in order to get the lowest rates. Consider getting a roommate, which may cut your expenses in half. Cook at home instead of always eating out, which can become costly. Develop a budget you can live on, so you don’t spend more than you should.
Taking a few years off before med school may also be a good option for some people. Working for a few years and saving money may make paying for school easier. Although you may not save enough to pay for everything, you might have enough saved up to cover living expenses, books or part of your tuition.