What comes to mind when you think of doctors? Your first thought probably isn’t lots of student loan debt.
But most doctors are saddled with a mountain of student debt. In fact, the median medical school grad racks up $183,000 of student loans, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
To find out how new doctors deal with their student loans, I spoke with emergency room doctor Stacie Solt. Here’s how Stacie refinanced medical school loans to get her $200,000 of student debt under control.
Graduating from medical school $200,000 in debt
Stacie attended Stanford as an undergraduate before going on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco.
“I went into med school without a tremendous amount of debt,” says Stacie. “Unfortunately, I left med school owing a little less than $200,000, and this was after obtaining scholarships.”
Stacie returned to Stanford to complete her residency in emergency medicine, as well as a fellowship in addiction medicine. “In residency, I paid off the bare minimum amount each month,” she says. “During my one-year fellowship, I was able to defer.”
For many young doctors, deferment or income-driven repayment is the best way to deal with student loans. As a resident, you might not have the income yet to handle standard payments. By reducing your payments — or pausing them altogether — you’ll avoid default.
Then, when you’re earning a higher income, you can ramp up your monthly payments and pay your loans off ahead of schedule. That being said, you’ll have a lot more interest to pay than what you started with. So make sure you understand the consequences before you defer.
Consolidating and refinancing student loans
Deferment doesn’t last forever, and Stacie needed a plan of action after her fellowship. To figure out next steps, she consulted a financial advisor. “I am good at medicine, but managing money and debt is not my forte,” says Stacie.
Her advisor recommended simplifying her debts by applying to refinance medical school loans. Stacie refinanced multiple loans and consolidated them into one new loan in the process. “Refinancing was relatively easy,” she says. “There were a few hoops to jump through, but I was able to consolidate pretty easily through the online application.”
Stacie refinanced and consolidated three different student loans into one new one with SoFi. Not only did she simplify her payments, but she also lowered her monthly bills from $2,000 to $1,500. “SoFi saves me about $500 a month,” Stacie says.
By applying to refinance medical school loans, Stacie also lowered her interest rate. Her 6.80% rate dropped to 6.24%. After 10 years of repayment on a $200,000 loan, that reduction in interest saves her $6,842.
If you’re a medical professional and would like to refinance medical school loans, you could be in luck. Doctors are often desirable candidates for student loan refinancing, as they have relatively high and steady incomes. As long as you can obtain a decent credit score, you could qualify for a new student loan with a competitive interest rate.
Making extra payments to get out of debt faster
After years of deferment and minimum payments, Stacie’s student loans racked up a lot of interest.
“After leaving medical school I was finally earning a paycheck … and I spent more than I should have in general,” says Stacie. “I could have paid off some of my loan debt rather than making … minimum payments.”
Today, Stacie makes extra monthly payments to pay back the debt as fast as possible. “For the past few months, I’ve been able to add an additional $1,500 payment, so it’s been $3,000 per month recently,” Stacie says.
At the same time, she must balance paying off student loans with saving for other goals. “I’m always in a quandary over whether to use my ‘extra money’ to pay down my debt or save up,” says Stacie. “I’m still a renter and would love to buy a piece of property in the Bay Area.”
Stacie is still finding the balance between debt payoff and saving, but she reminds herself to take the long view. “It’s helpful to keep the big picture in mind that the debt will get paid off … eventually,” says Stacie.
For now, she continues to make extra payments when she can. “If you are in a position to do so, I think pay off the debt as fast as you can afford,” advises Stacie. “It feels like a huge burden to owe that much money!”
Make a plan of action for your student debt
Many doctors leave medical school with an immense amount of student debt. Stacie’s advice is to come up with a plan of action as soon as possible. “Have a … financial plan from early on, such as when starting residency,” says Stacie. “Spend wisely and budget for less than you earn.”
Once you have a steady income, applying to refinance medical school loans might also be a savvy money move. Refinancing your medical school loans like Stacie did could be the solution you need to get ahead of your student debt.
Explore all your options so you know the best approach for your medical school loans. For even more strategies, check out the complete guide to student loan repayment for doctors.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.66%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.64%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.98% – 8.55%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews! |
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 October 1, 2020.
2 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.
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 September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 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% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
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 10/15/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.98% APR to 8.55% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
Saving big on medical school loans doesn't have to be brain surgery
SoFi rates from 2.25%