Six of 10 physical therapy (PT) students will leave school toting more than $50,000 in student loan debt, according to WebPT. But if you’re an aspiring PT, you can avoid that level of hurt with physical therapy scholarships, plus other smart tactics.
Here’s how to avoid borrowing too much in student loans as you choose from among 250-plus accredited physical therapy programs in the U.S.
The field of physical therapy is expected to grow by 22% through the 2018-2028 period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs aren’t especially difficult to find. In fact, most programs have employment rates at or near 99%. With that in mind, going to costlier, more prestigious schools might not be worth your money.
But you don’t have to seek out the cheapest doctor of physical therapy (DPT) programs either. You could cut your cost in half by attending an in-state school. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for example, nonresidents with full course loads pay about twice as much in tuition and fees ($19,043) per semester as their local peers ($10,180).
The other benefit of attending school close to home is that it could minimize your room and board costs, which can rack up. Duke University’s financial aid office, for example, estimates that the annual price of apartment rent and food in the Durham, N.C., area is approximately $25,320. Imagine wiping away most of that price tag by living at home, if that’s an option.
You could also halve your cost of attendance by prioritizing public universities. The average annual tuition of a public DPT program ($18,390) is dwarfed by the price tag of private schools ($37,014), according to the American Physical Therapy Association.
For the duration of your three-year program, you’d pay an average of $65,170 in tuition and fees at a public school versus $112,714 at a private one. Ask yourself if the price difference is worth it.
Once you’ve found a school that doesn’t come with a high price tag, continue to seek financial aid to lower your cost of attendance even further.
Your school could be a source of this assistance, so it’s wise to check in with campus financial aid offices, regardless of whether you’ve already applied. Aid offices can tell you about which type of financial package you could expect to receive or can walk you through campus-offered scholarships for physical therapy students.
Your off-campus options include seeking grants from your home state. Many states, including Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware, offer grants to graduate students. Keep in mind that your eligibility for physical therapy grants could depend on your level of financial need.
Other government-funded physical therapy scholarships might ask for service in exchange for aid. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) Health Professional Scholarship Program, for example, calls for two years serving in a VA clinic. Similarly, the Indian Health Service Scholarship requires its recipients to work for two years in a health facility serving an American Indian or Alaska Native community once they receive their diploma.
Also, seek out private organizations that provide physical therapy scholarships for 2019-2020 and beyond.
6 scholarships for physical therapy students
- BrightLife Physical Therapy Scholarship: $1,000 to current rehab therapy students regardless of their financial background or prospects
- The American Physical Therapist Association’s (APTA) Minority Scholarship Award: A cash reward for high-performing students who are nominated for their contributions to “minority affairs and services.”
- The APTA’s Mary McMillan Scholarship: A $5,000 award for high-performing PT students in their final year of school
- The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research’s scholarships: Between $7,500 and $15,000 of annual support for PTs with scholarly pursuits
- Tylenol Future Care Scholarship: Ten $10,000 scholarships and 25 $5,000 scholarships awarded annually to students majoring in a healthcare field
- National Society Daughters of the American Revolution’s awards: Renewable scholarships for students of many disciplines, including occupational and physical therapy
It’s wise to apply for all the physical therapy scholarships and grants you could reasonably win, though you may find yourself still in need of funds. In that case, you’re likely to turn to student loans. But even if taking on college debt becomes necessary, there are still ways to save yourself money by attacking the debt early.
Physical therapists can benefit from loan repayment assistance programs for their profession, and as noted above, the employment outlook is bullish.
But even though you might be bright-eyed about your job prospects, you might be less enthused with your first salary figures. A majority of physical therapists (35%) earn between $60,001 and $80,000, according to WebPT.
With five-figure earnings, you likely won’t be able to repay your DPT debt overnight. To get a head start, begin repaying any borrowed amounts — federal or private — as soon as it’s feasible.
Our student loan prepayment calculator estimates how much you could save by starting your loan repayment ahead of schedule.
You might think repaying loans while you’re a full-time doctoral student is impossible. Consider, though, that you can come up with cash via a few strategies, including by qualifying for student loan forgiveness for physical therapists.
Find work on campus
As you evaluate potential PT programs, ask the careers services department about part-time positions that can help you chip away at your loan balances. All the better if the position is related to your field of study. You might find work as a lab assistant, for example, to cover your potentially pricey lab fees at school.
Budget your potential expenses
Comparing prospective expenses at your top-choice schools could help you borrow less money and repay it more quickly. By spending less than you need to on apartment rent, for example, you could devote the savings to loan payments.
Attending a school with lower off-campus costs also won’t leave you as tempted to misuse student loan funds.
Make fair comparisons between your contender schools by creating basic, line-by-line budgets.
Consider your long-term career aims
Not all physical therapy programs will cater to your specialty, so it’s wise to zero in on schools that could put you on the right career track. Nailing that step could eventually lead to a welcome dose of physical therapy loan forgiveness.
Once you know the type of physical therapist you aspire to be, you can discover related loan forgiveness programs and options.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness, for example, could wipe away your federal loans if you work as a physical therapist in public service for 10 years and meet other requirements.
If you don’t envision yourself working in a clinical therapy setting, on the other hand, you might review the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program. You could receive up to $50,000 worth of repayment assistance if you pursue a research-oriented career.
As you’re deciding where to earn your degree, check on physical therapy scholarships and grants before you decide to borrow federal or private student loans.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!
|1.04% – 11.98%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|1.13% – 11.23%*,2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|3.80% – 9.36%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|2.20% – 6.17%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.05% – 11.44%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.82% – 11.32%6||Undergraduate|
|N/A7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.12% – 11.23%8||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.15% – 11.01%9||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
Information advertised valid as of 7/22/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. If you choose to complete an application, we will conduct a hard credit pull, which may affect your credit score. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for EdvestinU.
EDvestinU is a product of the nonprofit New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Corporation (dba The NHHEAF Network) NMLS ID#1527348.
APR range and repayment rates displayed assume a $10,000 loan disbursed in two equal disbursements. APR low assumes immediate repayment and 7 year repayment. APR high assumes deferred repayment and 15 year repayment. APR’s presented include a .50% interest rate reduction for electing to have payments automatically deducted from a bank account. The interest rate reduction for authorizing our servicer to automatically deduct monthly payments from a savings or checking account will not reduce the monthly payment, but will reduce the monthly finance charge, resulting in a lower total cost of loan. All examples are provided for educational purposes and actual terms may vary based on credit history, loan amount, applicable repayment term, and chosen repayment plan and method. Please note that the interest rate on variable rate programs may increase or decrease over time. The variable rate example assumes the same standard rate for the life of the loan. The NHHEAF Network reserves the right to modify or cancel its program at any time.
Eligibility: Dependent and independent U.S. citizen students. Currently residents of Washington and California are not eligible for EDvestinU programs.
Loan Limits: Minimum loan amount of $1,000.
Repayment: Standard or graduated repayment options available during repayment; 7, 10, or 15 year term selected by the borrower.
Cosigner Release: Cosigner release allowed if an account is in current standing, after 36 months of consecutive & on-time payments with a borrower FICO >749 for EDvestinU Private Student Loans and minimum income requirement of $30,000 with no foreclosures, repossessions, wage garnishments, unpaid tax liens, unpaid judgments or other public records having an open balance exceeding $100 during the last 7 years. The borrower must not currently be involved in bankruptcy proceeding or had any bankruptcy filings during the past 10 years and cannot have any defaults on education loans.
5 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
6 Important Disclosures for Ascent Student Loans.
Ascent Student Loans Disclosures
Ascent loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: >AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs;.
Rates are effective as of 07/01/2021 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: >AscentFunding.com/Rates.
1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions, please visit AscentFunding.com/Cashback. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a cosigner.
7 Important Disclosures for Funding U.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are made by Funding University which is a for-profit enterprise. Funding University is not affiliated with the school you are attending or any other learning institution. None of the information contained in Funding University’s website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by Funding University or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.
8 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.66% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.90% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.10% to 11.34% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.08% to 10.86% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.05% to 11.29% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 10.66% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.20% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (>www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.15% – 11.01% (1.15% – 10.24 APR)Fixed interest rates range from 4.18% – 11.70% (4.18% – 10.83% APR).
Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 10.66% (1.89% – 10.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.64% – 11.23%% (4.64% – 10.95% APR).
Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 9.22% (1.89% – 8.50% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.38% – 10.44% (4.38% – 9.72% APR).
Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 8.02% (1.89% – 7.72% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.28% – 9.24% (4.28% – 8.94% APR).
Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.97% – 7.06% (1.97% – 7.06% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.94% – 8.58% (4.94% – 8.58% APR).
Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.44% – 9.58% (4.44% – 9.52% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.40% – 12.83% APR).
Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.53% – 7.03% (3.53% – 6.76% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.98% – 10.09% APR).
Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of June 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.
Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.