- Posted January 21, 2013 by
Graduate Student Debt Crisis Personalized
I started medical school in Eastern Tennessee Fall 2010 and took out my first loan of approximatly $70,000 covering tuition, lab fees, books, and cost of living for one semester. With my acceptence I had to sign a wavier stating that I would not take a job while enrolled in the program (with a course load of 29 hours and working with patients it wouldn't be smart or safe). After a few months I came to the realization that medical school wouldn't fulfill my personal ambition to help the destitute. It was too impersonal. Abiding by insurance regulations, high patient loads, avoiding getting sued, and the ever decreasing doctor-patient contact time bothered me immensely. I started searching for a career that would allow me to practice healthcare in a way that would create ample opportunity for me to not only invest in the patients physical life, but to actually get to know them as a human being and not a condition. I did lots of research, shadowing and came across physical therapy as the avenue to achieve my goals. I applied in the midst of medical school, was accepted, and began another doctorate program in Louisville KY Summer 2011. I took classes for 3 semesters before I was dismissed on grounds of academic performance accumulating another $40,000 in loans. I was notified of the dismissal a week and a half before my wedding. I immediatly began sending out resumes and applications by the dozen to support my new family. I took the first job I was offered at a car rental agency a month or so after the wedding.
So I began my marriage with a little over $100,000 in school loans, a wife finishing her undergraduate degree, and a job making $10/hour. We were forced to take a $4,000 loan for my wife to finish her last semester of school. I tightened my budget to around $1,700/month. I worked as much overtime as my company would allow focusing the excess cash to create a $1,000 safety net. After that was created everything goes into loan repayment. The $1,700 provides enough money to pay for bills, $20 'free money' every month for date night, and sets aside a small amount for a vehicle when my wifes car croaks (which will be soon). I refuse to purchase anything that I can't pay cash for. School loans and buying a house are the sole exceptions because the potential for a great return is very high I was able to file for economic hardship which freezes interest accumulation for 12 months. When the repayment process begins in December 2013 I will be responsible for paying around $1,300 a month fixed interest on a 20 year plan. These are crippling figures. We have 12 months to make a something happen. My wife recieved an award for the top GPA in her college and is struggling to find any openings as an elementary school teacher. We have both decided it would be right for me to go back to Physical Therapy school. I feel that it is truly a calling on my life. My application is in and hopefully I will be accepted starting in June 2013. This means 3 more years of doctoral school and loan accumulation.
Both my wife and I have a deep heart for the international people of the world. We have aspirations to move outside of the country when we become debt free to provide cheap/free healthcare to the needy. At the rate we are going, it will take some time. We will stick to the $1,700/month budget while throwing everything we have to loan repayment until children come along and will change the income distribution.
I am writing this to give some insight and perspective about how student loans can severly affect graduate students just trying to make it in this world. The only efficient way to pay off doctoral loans is to have a doctoral paycheck. I do not possess a doctorate. I do not have a doctoral paycheck. If things do not change, I will not be able to pay off my loans. I am not the only one in this predicament. Many of my friends and colleagues have fallen trying to reach doctoral status and are now battling the reprocussions. Please take these facts to heart and I hope that my story brings everything to life for you, the reader.