Healthcare professions are rewarding and promising career choices. After three or more years of graduate school, you will gain the skills and tools necessary to provide optimal care to patients while earning excellent wages. However, the cost of education has been increasing every year and healthcare graduates are faced with large student loans that may take decades to repay.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the median 4-year cost of college was $226,447 for public schools and $298,538 for private schools in 2015. The median amount of debt for medical students was $180,000 in 2014 and it is increasing. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) the average first-year pharmacy school instate tuition in 2013-2014 was $18,283 for public schools and $34,169 for private schools. The median amount of money borrowed by graduation was $113,745 for public schools and $152,901 for private schools. This was a 33.2% increase in the amount borrowed for public schools and 27.6% increase for private schools when compared to 2009 figures.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual mean wage in 2014 for physicians was $194,990 and for pharmacists was $118,470. The average debt for some graduates was greater than their average annual wage. Healthcare professionals with student loans should explore ways to quickly repay what they owe. Here are student loan forgiveness options and other debt reduction strategies that graduates are using to reduce their healthcare college loan debt.
Student Loan Forgiveness
The federal government may offer loan forgiveness for part or all of an educational loan. Loan forgiveness is offered under specific circumstances. You may qualify if you perform volunteer work with various organizations such as the AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, or Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). You must meet their minimum requirements to receive stipends or partial loan cancelation. This is a great way to reduce your loans while helping underserved communities.
Another option is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program which reduces federal student loans for individuals who work full-time in public service jobs. Qualifying public service jobs include military service or public health. Lastly, you may apply for Teacher Loan Forgiveness which provides assistance for individuals in the teaching profession that serve low-income communities. In addition, you may also qualify for a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. This program provides up to $4,000 to individuals who are completing required course work for the teaching profession and agree to teach in a high-need field serving low-income communities.
Next: Loan Repayment Programs (LRP), Health Professional Grants, NIMHD