The average medical school debt is $207,000. Nurses can expect to graduate with close to $55,000 in debt. According to the latest statistics, 73% of students in the healthcare field graduate with debt. It makes sense that these job candidates should look for strategies and opportunities to lessen this burden. FQHCs naturally can help in these areas, but other methods support these new medical professionals in starting their careers on the right track.
Student Loan Debt Strategies for Medical Professionals
We know that medical education is increasingly expensive. We can help new graduates by offering them solid bonuses and incentives and salaries to help them knock down this debt as quickly as possible. But there are also things they can do to increase their efforts to reduce this burden. For example:
- First, develop a plan. Start thinking about ways to reduce your debt even before graduation. Don’t adopt an attitude of “I’ll worry about it later.” The Association of American Medical Colleges has a website devoted to providing resources for students and newly graduated, which you can access here.
- Focus on paying off higher interest rate student loans first to end up paying less in interest over time. Make sure any extra you’re paying is applied to the principal of the loan. If you’ve consolidated your loans, go online and pay attention to how your money is applied.
- Concentrate for a time on applying any extras to your loans. This could mean using a signing bonus or an annual bonus. If you’re capturing overtime hours, consider that extra as an accelerator of your student loan repayment plan. This will help you avoid lifestyle creep and keep things lean and mean—at least until you are debt-free.
- Consider income-driven repayment programs. You can see a list here. This program sets your monthly student loan repayment requirements at a rate designed to make them more affordable. Some of these programs cap your payments at 10% of what you’re earning. These programs also limit the amount of interest accruing or being charged while you’re in them. You aren’t penalized for early repayment, either, so anything you add to principle is beneficial and safe.
- Be careful about refinancing loans. Students and post-grads are often inundated with private lenders offering to refinance loans at a lower rate. While it’s easy to be lured by lower payments, consider this within the context of the benefits provided by federal student loans. For example, private lenders do not offer public service loan forgiveness or even ways to deal with financial hardship, such as long-term disability options. A personal loan can add risk and eliminate some of the benefits of federal student loans.
- Consider a loan forgiveness program, such as the one offered through FQHCs. In addition to the programs offered by the federal government, many states also offer loan forgiveness if the healthcare worker devotes time to underserved populations.
UHC Solutions works closely with new graduates and employers like you to match them in mutually beneficial arrangements in community health. Talk with our team about how we can help your organization meet its hiring goals.