With medical school debt reaching an average of $189,000 in 2017, navigating costs is a central concern to earning a medical degree.
But for students heading to the Caribbean for their studies, different borrowing rules apply. Getting federal and private student loans for Caribbean medical schools is its own process with a new set of considerations to weigh.
Knowing what you’ll be up against is key to making a sound plan to pay for a Caribbean medical school. Here’s what you need to know.
Medical schools in the Caribbean: A second chance
Top-tier Caribbean medical schools offer the same academic rigor, training, and credentials that U.S. medical schools do. Graduates of these schools can practice medicine after passing their board exams and completing their residencies; the process is the same for both Caribbean and U.S. med school grads.
But Caribbean medical schools are sometimes referred to as “second-chance” schools. With less competition for spots, U.S. applicants don’t have to be the perfect candidate to secure a seat. It’s not uncommon for applicants rejected by U.S. medical schools to turn their search toward Caribbean medical programs.
Caribbean medical schools have worse outcomes, despite higher costs
Caribbean medical schools won’t be the best or wisest option for every applicant. Students considering a Caribbean school should take a look at their own goals, expectations, and drive, suggested Taylor Barrett, a recent graduate of the American University of the Caribbean in St. Maarten.
For instance, overall outcomes at Caribbean medical schools lag behind performance at U.S. institutions. “There is a big dropout rate — it’s a very intense workload,” Barrett said. Even for students who complete their degree and graduate, residency match rates are lower than in U.S. medical schools.
Then there’s the cost. According to our medical school debt rankings, students can expect to pay an average $39,116 per year in tuition at a U.S. medical school. But Caribbean medical schools often charge higher costs, and students can face sky-high prices that come with island life.
Barrett faced around $60,000 per year in educational fees. Other Caribbean medical schools have similarly high price tags. St. George’s University, for example, has medical program costs of about $66,000 per year. Housing can be expensive, too. Barrett’s monthly expenses included rental costs of between $2,000 to $2,500 for a two-bedroom flat, plus $400 for utilities.
The total cost for his degree was steep. Barrett puts his medical school debt at around $415,000. Still, he feels as though the investment has paid off now that he’s completed his degree and lined up a residency. But he acknowledged that not all of his classmates were so lucky.
“If you’re considering a Caribbean medical school, it’s important to do your research and understand the trade-offs,” Barrett said. This will allow you to make an informed decision about whether a Caribbean medical school is worth it for you.
How to get federal or private student loans for Caribbean medical schools
Like Barrett, most enrollees at Caribbean medical schools will need to get federal or private student loans to pay for a degree. But getting federal and private student loans for Caribbean medical schools isn’t always a straightforward process.
Here’s an overview of medical school loan options in the Caribbean.
Graduate loan type
Annual loan limit
Direct Unsubsidized Loans for graduate students
Grad PLUS Loans
Up to the cost of attendance minus other financial aid
Private medical school loans
Determined by the lender and based on the borrower’s credit and other qualifications
Varies by lender
Typically limited to the cost of attendance but can vary by lender
Federal medical school loans at Caribbean schools
Federal student loans are currently offered to U.S. students at certain Caribbean medical schools. The following Caribbean medical schools are approved for participation in the Direct Loan Program, per the Federal Student Aid site:
- American University of Antigua
The Federal Student Aid Office does note that the above schools must continually meet requirements to maintain its status. Also, a school’s eligibility might not always extend to its medical program. Reach out directly to Caribbean medical schools to verify their participation in the Direct Loan Program.
For students who meet aid eligibility requirements and attend a qualified medical school, federal student loans might be the easiest way to finance their medical degree. If you’re eligible, you can use these two types of federal student loans to pay for Caribbean medical school:
Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Grad PLUS Loans
Private student loans for Caribbean medical schools
In addition to federal aid options, students can also find funding through private lenders. Finding private student loans for Caribbean medical schools can take some legwork.
Many U.S. lenders are willing to offer private student loans for Caribbean medical schools, but you’ll need to know where to look. The first place to begin your search is with your school’s financial aid office.
This office and its advisors work with students to find financing, so they can point you to lenders and programs that work with students in your situation.
One option available to some students, for example, is EdMed. Offered by SouthEast Bank and ReliaMax, EdMed is designed specifically to meet the borrowing needs of medical students in the Caribbean, according to a ReliaMax press release.
Of course, there’s more to getting private student loans for Caribbean medical schools than simply finding a lender. You’ll also need to meet the requirements to get approved for these loans.
Reputable lenders require good credit to get a private student loan, in addition to other criteria. You could also qualify by finding a cosigner with good credit. If you have poor credit or a rocky credit history, it might be difficult to get private student loans for Caribbean medical schools.
Figure out Caribbean medical school loans, then make a plan to repay them
Getting the student loans you need to pay for a medical degree in the Caribbean doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Students who plan ahead and do their research can figure out how to get access to necessary federal or private student loans for Caribbean medical schools.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
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.
Information advertised valid as of 2/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* 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.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.23% – 13.23%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.20% – 11.44%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 10.11%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|