An AAMC report from last year revealed that 84% of med students graduated with an average debt of $180,000. There are numerous repayment options available, and, now, according to a recent AAMC article, there’s a growing push for the schools themselves to take a more active role in helping students understand those options and create a realistic financial plan.
The article states that a “cookie-cutter approach” to managing med school debt generally won’t work since each student’s financial situation is unique. So simply going through a checklist of repayment plans (like the Pay As You Earn program or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, among many others), isn’t enough. Instead, some schools, like Drexel University and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), have taken steps to clarify these plans for students though mandatory meetings with on-staff certified financial planners.
According to Justin Kribs, OHSU’s financial planner, “It’s taking their personal puzzle and putting the pieces together with them. What’s great is we’re starting students at square one and getting to ask them what they want to accomplish, how they will get there, and what things are in their way.”
Financial literacy programs are becoming more common at top med schools. Tufts University School of Medicine has its Planning for $uccess program, as well as workshops that teach students about taxes, mortgages, contract negotiations, and credit. Tufts’ financial aid office also publishes advice about responsible spending, low-cost activities, and student discounts in its quarterly newsletter.
The University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine provides incentives to students to attend 30-minute sessions that will improve their financial literacy – students involved in these sessions are entered into a $500 scholarship drawing. MU also offers AAMC’s FIRST (Financial Information, Resources, Services, and Tools) program, which teaches students about different types of loans and loan repayment options, and offers advice via other projects and webinars on how to manage finances, loans and debt.
The last school mentioned in the AAMC article is Michigan State University College of Human Medicine which implemented an 11-week program featuring financial experts as guest speakers. The course is an elective (now in its third year), and is the basis for a potential joint MD/MBA program with MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business.
Medical education is a sizeable investment – as all you med students know! These initiatives aim to help students gain understanding and control over their financial situations.