Author Topic: Advice on Medical School Student Debt... one quarter of a MILLION DOLLARS!?  (Read 4835 times)

Offline will1378

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guilty of writing a book...
summary-
medical school cost "shit tons" of cash
armed services offers a "too good to be true" deal worth 200k+
I hate debt like crazy, never been in it thick, and never want to be
My Mom, whos dad was a career army man (WWII and Korea), is opposed to the offer (she is offering to pay half of expenses (20k a year))
Is it possible that this choice would be a swing in finances of over a quarter of a million dollars?! I feel like my finances could go from a monthly cell phone bill and humble living conditions to a ledger sheet that looks like the us government and wall street banks...

Anyone who has any ideas, let me know (a direct message or a reply is appreciated).


I am currently working on choosing the best financial course of action in regards to financing my medical education. Thanks to my masters research in developing new treatment methods for difficult to treat breast cancer and some great parents that could fill in when needed, I left undergrad and graduate school with $0 debt. However, being accepted to medical school presents some rather large obstacles in terms of finance. It will cost at a minimum, 160k. There exists several low interest government loan programs geared especially towards medical students, however there also exists programs through the air force, army, and navy that not only pay all tuition, books, and fees, but also pay nearly 2k a month in just "living expenses." I also forgot to mention the 20k signing bonus. This literally seems too good to be true. That being said, are there any Docs in the forum, or anyone that knows of anyone who did this and would see this as a good idea? Anyone good at reading the fine print? I understand some of the requirements to serve, but I find it very honorable to serve and good way to support my beliefs in the American way of life.

I was always better at science than I was contract law or finance.... I figured that the "debt eliminators" in the forum would find the best course of action for me... I could really use that 20k to buy some land and maybe an old CJ or willys.
My mom and dad are well off, but thats no reason why I should take their hard earned money when I can finance it through some other way (ie. government). They are offering 20k in tuition/10k living expenses per year, leaving me with 20k tuition to finance through the subsidized medical doctorate government loans. My dad is a small business industrial/commercial construction owner who employs 25 guys and gives full health and dental to everyone's entire family, so I really dont feel guilty using his tax money to get some subsidized loans, BTW.

some stats...
26.5 years old
0 debt
decent (I think) credit at 700 (maybe lowered from a crappy utility company...)
25k roth (Diversified mutuals)
3k matured government bonds (still earning interest at 4%)
gf I want to marry (with dad who wants to throw me through a wall I think... hes a hardass exec...)
working 2 jobs right now to prep for the oncoming red ink...

Offline MaddoginMass

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Will1378,

I think you've already made up your mind and are looking for a bit of confirmation.  While this is a personal decision, I don't think there is anything more honorable than serving in the Armed Forces.  I'm about 20 years your senior and never served in the military.  In my mind this is the biggest regret I have.  Coming out of college I was a hair away from joining, went through all the processing, physicals, interviews and the last thing was signing on the dotted line.....then I was offered another position in the federal government and took that instead (where I worked alongside the military).  I don't regret that decision, but I wish I had joined the military at some point prior to getting too old. 

I'm viewing the no debt as an additional benefit........


Offline Pathfinder

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I'll second what Maddog said. I came of age during Nam, and ended up not serving due to a high draft number. I too regret never having served, as both my Dad served (8th AF, piloted B-17s over Germany) and my brother (US Army, helicopters, very luckily sent to Korea instead of Nam) served.

If you do go into the military, do it for the right reasons - to serve. Like the Marines say, you are a Marine first, then your MOS second. You will never regret it.

Bless you for whatever decision you make. Medicine is a tough field, even on the research side.

Offline dep190

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I have heard that up in Alaska there really are communities that will pay for medical people to live in the communities! My friend lives there and he has told me about these positions. I had a doctor here in Ohio who left to go to Alaska and I was sorry to see him go he was a great doctor!
Check for communities that dont have hospitals or have limited medical service! there are a lot of things that can be bartered and a good living made!

Offline liftsboxes

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I'd go with the military solution based on what you've written thus far.  It's also not such a bad idea for a young couple to move out of the immediate vicinity of their parents for a few years.  Get used to each other on your own terms - without having family 10 minutes away from dropping in to ask you to glance at their foot fungus pro bono.

Offline willille

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I spent a long time in the military. Look very very carefully at what the military is going to require from you to get all of this. Like someone here wrote there may be communities that will pay some or a lot of the cost with certain arrangements. I know this is possible with DVM students so that may be possible for medical doctors. I am not saying the military route would be bad. I am saying be careful you know what you are getting into. Best of luck to you.

Offline Stein

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Well, if it were me I would do it without debt.  There are a few options including the military - scholarships, MD PhD programs, rural community programs and old fashioned work - or a combination of these.

Offline cougar

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You actually have multiple options.  If you like the sound of the military deal and want to serve, it is a good program.  I know several docs who have done that route.  It is s pretty sweet gig as long as you understand you will be sent somewhere yet to be determined to do military medicine for a few years after your residency (so you make less after residency and have less freedom in your practice in exchange for them covering your bills up front).  Other options to keep debts low include the national health service corp scholarships (http://nhsc.hrsa.gov), many states have rural scholarships where they pay your way in exchange for you practicing primary care in an underserved area (typically one year of service for each year they paid).  I did the state rural health scholarship route and came out with very little debt several years ago as a family practitioner.  Never regretted doing the program for a minute.
Again, each of these options has pluses and minuses.  The first question for any of it is what specialty you plan to practice, since you do not want to choose your specialty based solely on what will get you the least debt.  Most of the rural deals are for primary care (not opportunities for pediatric neuroopthamologists in the sticks).  The military i am not as sure about (i know several FPs that have gone that route and know someone doing OB/GYN now who is going that route but i think they still limit it to certain specialties).
Either way, good luck to you and God bless your endeavors.

Offline FreeLancer

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Some of my classmates were required to start their military payback before they did residencies, and a few were unable to get back into their desired specialty.  I think some found they made a better decision on a specialty after spending 4 years doing general military medicine and really figuring out what they liked.  Just keep in mind its not exactly like free money, there are significant strings attached.  They own you until you pay them back.

I chose to buckle down and pay the student loans off fast, and it didn't take any longer than the military payback would have been.  I got some help from my parents, it made a huge difference and I made sure I didn't squander their generosity.  The discipline learned in paying off the debt has allowed me to save and invest at a much higher rate now because I was already used to living below my means.  Sadly, I have friends who admit they will probably die before paying off their med school loans. That depresses the hell out of me, I have no idea how they cope with that burden perpetually hanging over them.

Good luck with your decision, I don't envy you.  Medicine is pretty jacked up and getting worse all the time.  A lot of us wish we were doing something else, but once you start down the rabbit hole its kind of hard to turn around.

Offline Rorschach

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It seems to me the question is would he like the military or the bankers to own his him?  Bankers don't usually get you shot at.  The potential for bullets flying at you is bad for survival.  Also a standing army is not really constitutional: Article I Section 8 Clause 12 "To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years" (though Clause 13 does seem to allow for a standing Navy). This clause is the Constitution is ignored and the armed forces are essentially a government tool for the Feds to screw up other peoples lives just like they screw up ours.  Also, whether you see it as legitamate spending or not our military spending is part of the national debt problem(http://www.lewrockwell.com/margolis/margolis179.html)(http://www.lewrockwell.com/higgs/higgs147.html)  Pathfinder quotes J.B Books "I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these to others, and I require the same from them. ", but our military is guilty of this (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/us-warplanes-bomb-afghan-wedding-party-994922.html)(http://archives.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/central/07/01/afghanistan.bombing/), and this just the stuff to big to hide.