What You Must Know About Student Loans for Medical Schools in the Caribbean

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private student loans for Caribbean medical schools

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

Interest rate

Loan fee

Annual loan limit

Direct Unsubsidized Loans for graduate students

6.00%

1.066%

$40,500

Grad PLUS Loans

7.00%

4.264%

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:

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.

It’s also never too early to make your strategy to pay off medical school debt. Once you’ve figured out how to get the funding you need, work on your medical school debt repayment plan.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.