Medical school is an exciting and challenging process, but often the most challenging part is the one least related to your medical school training – managing your financial debt. Managing financial debt from medical school can be much more challenging than managing debt from other graduate programs, as the medical school training is followed by an internship and residency, meaning that many more years before you are in a financial position to pay down that loan. There are many ways to manage that financial debt however and here are some avenues to consider.
The first thing you might want to consider is trying to develop a relationship with your lender right away, when you are taking out your loans. Get to know some of the representatives of the lending agency, and let them know what your plans and expectations are. If you run into trouble down the line, this may ease the process of working with your lender to arrive at a satisfactory resolution. Furthermore, if you anticipate a problem, contact your lender right away. Your lender is motivated to helping you pay your medical school loans. Putting a loan into collections is not good for anybody except the collection agency. The sooner you approach your lender with any problems, the easier it will be for them to structure a plan you can live with.
There are a number of financial need and extenuating circumstances deferments you can take to put off or reduce the payments on your loans. However you must make sure you have done all the paperwork properly so your lender is able to understand why you need these deferments and what your plan is once the deferments are over. Again the key is communication. If the lender knows you have a plan for repayment, they will be much more willing to accommodate you.
There are a number of in person, online or telephone resources you can and should take advantage of to manage your debt. Your school’s financial aid office will undoubtedly be able to offer some useful advice. There is debt management information on the Association of American Medical Colleges website. SallieMae, who you will very likely be dealing with on at least some of your student loans, also has tips and tools for financial planning and debt management on their website.
Medical school debt can be quite intimidating. As the loan bills mount, it may seem that they are impossible to manage. They are not. If you maintain composure when examining your financial situation, keep careful records, have a manageable plan for repayment of debt, and make sure you use all of the resources available to you, financial issues will be a short lived stumbling block on your way to a successful medical career.