right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
We’ve got a new look! Walk through the key updates here.

How relevant is undergrad cost/debt to medical school attendence?

AnthonyZAnthonyZ 133 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 158 Junior Member
Hi everyone,
I'm a current HS senior deciding on what college to attend. I was accepted into UVA (oos), U Rochester, and Penn State (in state). UVA is my favorite and best option, but Penn State is cheapest. My plan is to eventually go to med school. Regardless of what school I attend, I will have to take out loans to finance my education. I know people say to keep undergrad costs down because med school is costly, but just how relevant is the cost of undergrad attendence in the grand scheme of things? Undergrad costs seem to be only a fraction of the total debt I will eventually aquire, the majority of it coming from med school. Should I forego attending a school that I like more in order to save a couple of thousand of dollars in the long run? Right now Virginia is about $8000 more per year than Penn State, but I would be so much happeir at UVA (I don't want to go to Penn State). I know saying "is it worth it?" is very subjective, instead my question is will I be able to pay off all debt as a doctor if that extra $8000/year for UVA becomes debt?

Thank you!
14 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: How relevant is undergrad cost/debt to medical school attendence?

  • a20171a20171 1101 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,177 Senior Member
    edited April 2018
    You won't be able to take out the 8,000-- your parents or some other adult with credit will have to which makes it their debt and not yours. An extra 8,000 over 4 years is 32,000 which which be accruing interest over the years you're in school and the years you're in med school AND the years before you're able to start making large payments ALL in their name. I'm not trying to discourage you from choosing the option that will make you happier, but realistically, it isn't only 8,000, and it isn't really your final decision.
    edited April 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10000 replies199 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,199 Senior Member
    Debt is extremely relevant to hopeful pre-meds. Medical school is expensive and there is little FA except loans, loans and more loans. It's important to minimize the amount of undergrad debt you'll be carrying with into med school because it will be very long time (up 15 years 4 years undergrad, 4 years med school plus 3-8 years of residency & fellowship) before you'll be earning a doctor's salary. (Medical residents earn basically a school teacher's salary.) The interest of your loans will keep accruing and can easily double or triple your loan amount.

    A secondary issue is that dsirect student loans are capped at $40,500/year for professional students. This means you'll likely need to borrow additional monies thru either Grad Plus or a private loan--both of which require a excellent credit rating. Having substantial debt from undergrad can disqualify you.
    · Reply · Share
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown 8230 replies73 discussionsForum Champion Brown Posts: 8,303 Forum Champion
    Debt is relevant but if you’re unhappy and not successful you won’t make it to med school in the first place...
    · Reply · Share
  • NPKR01NPKR01 44 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    Minimize your debt. Go with cheapest school. You can get into an excellent med school from any college as long as you have high GPA, especially in science classes, and good MCAT score. Med school is expensive. Minimize debt.

    After college, go to cheapest med school is possible. Again, minimize debt. Where you attend med school is not very important as the curriculum is the same at all of them. You will learn what you need to know at any med school in the US. You can get into the best residencies from any med school if you have high GPA in medical school and excellent letters of recommendation.

    Remember this- you learn how to be the doctor you will be in your RESIDENCY, not in med school.

    The best residencies, unlike med school rankings, are often not Harvard, Yale, etc. They may be (and often are) at the instate public university medical centers.

    Why is it important to save money? Reimbursements are down, doctors do not earn what they used to, and this is particularly true depending on the area of the country where you end up practicing. Federal government and private payers are going to always look to pay physicians even less. You will have difficulty paying off big debt on some physician salaries. And if you end up marrying a physician with debt (as some do) the combined debt may be astronomical. Plan on paying off for 20 years after you finish residency.

    There are record high rates of burnout in medical practice today and getting worse every year. Don't add crushing debt to your headwinds and risk of burnout.
    · Reply · Share
  • manyloyaltiesmanyloyalties 84 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
    edited May 2018
    I disagree with some of the details of this advice, although not the premise. The premise, which is that medical school is absurdly expensive is true. If you are not in college yet, your medical school may cost 400,000 if medical school tuition continues to increase. But to blindly go to the cheapest undergraduate school is not sound advice. The following are some ways to reduce medical school cost. Go to a cheap medical school. Easier said then done, but there are cheap or free medical schools. Baylor, or the Texas state medical schools, which are outstanding schools. Very hard to get into. Maybe your home state school. Get an MD Ph. D—which is free. Get merit money—the medical schools compete for top applicants. The ways you can achieve this are by being an incredible applicant. Oh yeah, by the way, admission to medical school is also absurdly tough, with applicants expected to have great grades, MCAT scores, research, clinical experience and recommendations. What do I mean by tough, I mean 2 and 3% admission rates. George Washington Medical School is 2.9% admissions rate. A top applicant stands out in that crowd. So what does this mean for undergraduate debt? It means some level of debt is worth it if the university is capable of providing you the opportunity to become that stellar applicant. What opportunities are on campus? What percentage of premeds get into medical school? Does the school have professors in your areas who you will get to know and who can provide powerful recommendations. Medical school is not a given.

    I know prestige is a hot topic in CC, and to some extent I am saying that a greater gap in prestige supports some debt in undergraduate. But its not prestige to focus on, but opportunity and performance. Harvard offers great opportunity for premedical students both to get into medical school and to get into a cheap medical school. I would not turn it down for a low cost option. Other calls may be closer. It would be a personal decision. But, unlike most undergraduates, if you are interested in premed you must not only consider the combined debt of undergraduate and graduate school, but the opportunity of using undergraduate to reduce medical school costs. In that circumstance, cheaper is not always better.
    edited May 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • manyloyaltiesmanyloyalties 84 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
    edited May 2018
    One more point. It is simply not accurate to state that great science grades and MCAT will get you into a medical school. With three percent admission rates, everybody in the pool of serious candidates has those. You have to have that PLUS other stuff. It is a grueling four years, sorry to say. People on CC are shocked, shocked, that 4.0 36 ACT students got shut out of the IVY league. Yet, for most major medical schools, the actual admission rates are lower than undergraduate admissions at Harvard and Stanford. Anybody who is telling you get good grades and MCAT and go to medical school is giving you fools advice. You can get into medical school from virtually every school, but some schools offer a distinct advantage. You can bet your competitors for the 3% admission rates are doing this.

    But, for something this important, don’t listen to me or anyone else on CC. Go to the pre-health department of your chosen schools for undergraduate. Get their four year plan for getting into medical school. Study that plan and ask hard questions such as, what research opportunities actually exist. Does every student get such opportunities. Find students in premed at that school and ask them. Get the actual stats for admission to medical school. Ask them how many received merit awards. Ask the same questions of the other schools and compare. Don’t just go to campus and look at the dining hall. Go look at the webpages of medical schools that you might want to go to, such as your lower cost state medical schools. What schools are feeder schools to that medical school. Does the cheap school do well at that low cost option. Go get the information the AMA puts out on medical school admissions. Then, and only then, make your decision. Otherwise, junior year, when you look at those low low admission rates, and the 400,000 tuition, you and your parents will freak out. On the other hand, careful planning and the right school will still leave time for some fun and in the long run your overall debt and career will be better.
    edited May 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • coolguy40coolguy40 1930 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    Regardless of some of the advice on this forum, debt is NOT your friend. Medical school requires a lot of private loans in order to finish and much of it requires good credit. If you have large amounts of student debt for your undergraduate, that could give you an adverse credit rating and risk getting turned down. THAT would be a travesty. You have to choose a college wisely, but cost is always your #1 consideration.
    · Reply · Share
  • NPKR01NPKR01 44 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    Prestige of medical school matters little. As i said you can get into any med school from most undergrad schools including just about any flagship instate public school. Yes, in addition to high gpa and mcats you will need the extracurricular stuff (which goes without saying) and you can find ways to get that extra stuff at virtually any school.

    Your residency is what teaches you to be a physician in your field and if you are looking at academics, the respect and prestige of a particular residency program, along with research papers published, papers presented, and letters of recommendation from residency dept faculty are what are needed to get the more competitive and coveted positions after graduation from residency. No one at that point is going to care if you went to Harvard Med School or Umass Med. No one.

    Save your money. You can get into the top residency program in the country from a state med school. It is done quite frequently.

    And reimbursements for a particular procedure or medical service are...... guess what? ......the same no matter where you went to med school.

    Pts today are more savvy and know residency is what matters. The name of my residency really helped boost my career.

    If they are close in price then fine go for the more prestigious school. Otherwise save your money. You will thank yourself.

    Ask me how i know what i just wrote.

    I think many docs that invested heavily in an expensive private med school are stuck here on cc having to justify there purchase and the debt they are now stuck wirh paying off for the next 20 years.

    · Reply · Share
  • luckymama64luckymama64 186 replies33 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    edited May 2018
    I graduated from law school in 1994 and my brother from med school a year later. At that time, doctors' student loan interest was completely deferred during their residencies--it did not compound to the principal. That was a HUGE benefit, and I don't know if that is still the case. It is worth checking. We were making the same amount of money. We laughed that the doctors had much better clout than the lawyers, b/c the average starting salaries for lawyers was about equal to what he made as a resident. Also, his student loans were paid off by his practice as an incentive. I know a number of doctors with the same deal. I know of no lawyers with the same deal.
    edited May 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10000 replies199 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,199 Senior Member
    @luckymama64

    Interest on the unsubsidized federal direct loans and Grad Plus loans (which are what's offered to medical students) starts to accrue immediately upon disbursement. There is no deferment available for medical school or medical residency.

    So any med school loans (and an unsub undergrad loans) will accrue interest during med school and residency. If a student consolidates their loans (which most med students do after graduation to lock in a lower interest rate), the accumulated interest capitalizes and increases the size of the loan.

    As for paying off a med student's debt upon hiring--you do still see some of that, but not the full debt. $40k is the usual signing bonus--but a signing bonus is only offered by hospitals and medical practices that have difficulty attracting doctors. Think rural locations and smaller cities, esp in Midwest, South and Southwest. Want to live in popular coastal city or nice suburb? So does everyone else. No signing bonuses. So if you want to live in Boston-NYC-Philly-DC-Atlanta-Miami-Chicago-Dallas-Houston-Austin-Phoenix-Denver-San Diego-LA-SF-Portland-Seattle areas or their suburbs---you're not going to get help paying off your loans from your employer. Now if you're willing to move to Odessa, TX or Blanding, UT or Bismark, ND --you'll get a signing bonus along with higher than typical reimbursement/salary. But the signing bonus comes with a binding contract--one that requires 5 years of service with the hospital/practice group. (Your bonus is paid in annual installments and only at the end of a year of service to prevent docs from jumping ship.)
    · Reply · Share
  • AndorvwAndorvw 294 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 303 Member
    The subsidized part was taken away during Obama time (subprime crisis?). Still physicians earn higher salary (on average, after residency/fellowship) than lawyers or MBAs, so that's a plus.
    · Reply · Share
  • packattack1018packattack1018 25 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 29 Junior Member
    I had someone argue with me in another thread that it didn’t matter if my daughter went to a highly ranked LAC or a regular state U to get into med school, grades and MCAT score was most important. I have a hard time believing that all things being equal, the student who made the grades at a more stringent school wouldn’t have the edge.
    Regarding the debt question, does either of your choices have a BS/MD program that might shave some time off your undergrad choice? That’s something to consider.
    · Reply · Share
  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14633 replies974 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15,607 Senior Member
    The OP started this thread in April and has supposedly made a decision by now.
    · Reply · Share
  • texaggietexaggie 183 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    edited April 1
    Same question, every year? " How to pay for Med school "

    Check out posting title "20k in debt before Med School?" - only 30 treads with good information.
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/2133365-20k-in-debt-before-med-school-p1.html

    hopefully following comment about med school admissions helps
    go read post #31 on this thread:
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/22128038#Comment_22128038
    Written by somebody in med school admissions

    Good Luck Everyone.
    edited April 1
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity