Your Repayment Guide for Psychiatrist Student Debt

 April 27, 2020
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Becoming a psychiatrist is an expensive process. With the high cost of medical school, many students turn to psychiatry loans to pay for their education.

Many medical school graduates leave school with more than $250,000, on average, in debt. If you’re a new psychiatrist with student debt, it’s important to know all your repayment and loan forgiveness options.

How to repay psychiatrist student debt
National student loan forgiveness options for psychiatrist student debt
State repayment assistance programs

How to repay psychiatrist student debt

As a psychiatrist, your earning potential is high. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national mean annual wage for psychiatrists is $208,000. But student loan debt can eat up a significant part of your income.

If you’re struggling to keep up with your student loans, here are three ways to make them more affordable:

1. Apply for an income-driven repayment plan
2. Refinance your student debt
3. Negotiate a signing bonus

1. Apply for an income-driven repayment plan

If you have federal student loans and can’t afford your payments under your current repayment schedule, consider applying for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan.

Under an IDR plan, the government extends your repayment term to 20 to 25 years and caps your payments at a percentage of your discretionary income. Plus, if you still have a loan balance after the end of your IDR plan’s term, the government will forgive the remaining balance.

There are four IDR plans available:

  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE): Under PAYE, your repayment term is 20 years, and your payments are 10% of your discretionary income.
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE): Your payments are 10% of your discretionary income. Undergraduate student loans have a repayment term of 20 years, while graduate or professional degree loans have a term of 25 years.
  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR): For new borrowers who took out loans after July 1, 2014, your repayment term is 20 years, and your payment is 10% of your discretionary income.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): With an ICR plan, you pay the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income or what you’d pay under a 12-year repayment plan with a fixed payment adjusted for your income.

Depending on your salary and loan balance, an IDR plan can dramatically reduce your payments. For example, if you had $183,000 in student loans at 4.5% interest, your monthly payment under a 10-year repayment plan would be $1,897.

If your income was $182,700 and you qualified for PAYE, your monthly payment would be just $1,372. Applying for an IDR plan would give you an extra $525 per month in your budget.

You should know that there are some downsides to IDR plans. Despite getting a lower payment, you could end up paying much more in interest over the length of your repayment term than you would with a 10-year plan. If you qualify for forgiveness at the end of your IDR plan, the IRS taxes the forgiven balance as income, which can lead to a hefty tax bill.

2. Refinance your student debt

If you have private student loans, you don’t qualify for IDR plans. Instead, one way to make your payments more affordable is to refinance your student loans.

With refinancing, you work with a private lender to take out a new loan equal to the amount of some or all of your private or federal student loans. The new loan has completely different repayment terms. You could qualify for a lower interest rate, lower monthly payment, or shorter repayment term.

Refinancing can help you save a significant amount of money. For example, if you had $100,000 in student loans at 7% interest, you’d have a monthly payment of $1,161 under a 10-year repayment plan and would pay $39,330 in interest fees.

If you qualified for a refinanced loan with a 4% interest rate, your monthly payment would drop to $1,012, and you’d now pay $21,494 in interest. Taking a few minutes to apply for student loan refinancing could save you more than $17,000 over the length of your loan repayment. You can use our student loan refinancing calculator to find out how much you’d save by refinancing your student loans.

There are some drawbacks to refinancing to consider, however. If you refinance federal student loans, you’ll lose out on benefits such as access to IDR plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Plus, qualifying for a refinanced loan as a new graduate can be difficult on your own. You might need a cosigner — someone with good credit and a stable income — to apply for the loan with you.

3. Negotiate a signing bonus

One of the best ways to manage your student loan payments is to boost your income so the loans are more affordable. As a psychiatrist, you might be able to negotiate a signing bonus when considering job offers.

According to The Medicus Firm, a national health care recruiting firm, the average signing bonus for a physician is $30,000. If you applied that amount to your student loans, you could save money over the long run.

If you had $100,000 in student loans at 7% interest, you’d repay a total of $139,332 if you paid only the minimum payments for the length of your loan. By applying your $30,000 signing bonus as a lump-sum payment, you’d pay off your loans nearly four years earlier and repay just $116,518. Using your signing bonus strategically would help you save more than $22,000.

To estimate out how making an extra payment would affect your loan, use our lump sum extra payment calculator.

National student loan forgiveness options for psychiatrist student debt

If you have large amounts of education debt, student loan forgiveness can provide you with much-needed relief. Here are four forgiveness programs you might qualify for as a psychiatrist:

1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
2. National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program
3. National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
4. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Program for the Repayment of Educational Loans

1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you have federal Direct Loans, you might be eligible for PSLF. Under the PSLF program, the government forgives the balance of your loans after you make 120 qualifying monthly payments while working for an eligible nonprofit organization or government agency.

Payments you make under an IDR plan count as a qualifying payment for PSLF, so you can make reduced payments and still be eligible for loan forgiveness. Unlike IDR plan forgiveness, the amount of your debt that the government forgives is not taxable as income.

As a psychiatrist, you’re not eligible for PSLF if you work in private practice or a for-profit setting.

To find out if you qualify, use our PSLF checklist.

2. National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program

If you’re a psychiatrist interested in a research career, you might be eligible for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program. Under this program, the NIH will repay up to $50,000 of a researcher’s student loan debt per year if they commit to one of NIH’s mission-relevant initiatives.

To qualify, you must agree to spend at least two years performing research funded by a nonprofit organization within the U.S. Your loan balance must be equal to or greater than 20% of your institutional base salary at the time of the award.

For more information and to apply, visit the NIH website.

3. National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

The National Health Services Corps (NHSC) offers loan repayment assistance to qualified health care providers. Under this program, mental or behavioral health clinicians can receive up to $120,000 in repayment assistance. In return, you must make a three-year commitment to work for an NHSC-approved location.

For more information and to submit your application, check out the NHSC’s application and program guide.

4. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Program for the Repayment of Educational Loans

Psychiatrists who agree to a period of service with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) might qualify for up to $30,000 in repayment assistance per year.

To qualify, you must be enrolled in your final year of a postgraduate physician residency program leading to a specialty qualification in psychiatric medicine or a subspecialty qualification of psychiatry. The program you attend must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association.

For more information, visit the VA website.

State repayment assistance programs

Depending on where you live, you might qualify for a state repayment assistance program. Some areas offer medical professionals, including psychiatrists, student loan repayment awards to encourage them to live and work in areas with a shortage of qualified health care providers. With most programs, you must commit to working a fixed service term.

For example, behavioral health providers in Arizona can receive up to $50,000 for their initial two years of service under the state loan repayment program.

To find out if your state has a similar initiative, check out our student loan repayment assistance program tool, a searchable database of more than 120 awards.

Christina Majaski contributed to this report.

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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 4, 2022.


2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. 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. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.


4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


5 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 2.99% – 8.24% APR (2.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (1.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.


6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


7 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 8 years/96 monthly payments, 12 years/144 monthly payments or 15 years/180 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 5.43% APR. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed APR: Fixed rates will not change during the term. This rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.


8 Important Disclosures for CitizensBank.

CitizensBank Disclosures

Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure:  Variable interest rates range from 1.99%-8.38% (1.99%-8.38% APR). Fixed  interest rates range from 2.99%-8.63% (2.99%-8.63% APR).

IS Variable Rate Disclosure:  Variable Rates advertised 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 December 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. Your final variable rate may  be based upon the 30-day average SOFR index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.

ERL Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of May 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 0.29%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the 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 are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical 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.
 
Citizens Student Loan Eligibility: : Applicants must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution.
 
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, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, 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. 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.