Real life example of medical school debt

by Pierce Hibma

Want to really understand the reality of US medical education debt? Then allow me to pull back the curtains to expose the financial monster that awaits me after I earn my MD.

I am a third medical student at a private medical school in the Midwest. Fortunately, I was able to graduate from college without any financial debt thanks to an athletic scholarship. Unfortunately, I, like many other medical students, pay for my entire medical education and living expenses through student loans.

The average medical school debt today, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges is $156,456. I can only wish that was true for me. Perhaps the best way to understand the burden of a current medical student’s debt is by example. Here is an approximation of my real-life medical school debt assuming I select forbearance during residency and repay the loan over 15 years:

Annual cost of tuition: $48,000
Annual cost of attendance: $67,500 (Includes costs of books/supplies, loan fees, health insurance, licensure fees, living expenses, and transportation allowance)

Total balance after medical school: $270,000
Amount subsidized: $34,000
Amount unsubsidized: $236,000

Interest incurred during 3 years of residency: $100,000
Total balance after residency: $370,000

Monthly payment after residency: $3,370 (180 total payments)
Interest incurred after residency: $237,000
Total repayment: $607,000

These financial conclusions were reached via the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Medloans Calculator. Again, these numbers are approximations and many different repayment plans exist, but it certainly highlights the massive financial burdens placed on today’s medical students.

Pierce Hibma is a medical student.

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