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What is Average Medical School Debt? How Long to Pay Off Medical School Debt?

Average medical school debt in the US is around $203,062, among the highest educational debts, exceeding undergraduate and graduate loans. The time required to pay off medical school debt ranges from 5 to 30 years, depending on factors like loan type, income, and eligibility for repayment programs.

by Tamilchandran

Updated Dec 22, 2023

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What is Average Medical School Debt? How Long to Pay Off Medical School Debt?

What is Average Medical School Debt?

Average medical school debt in the United States is approximately $203,062. This substantial amount of debt reflects the financial burden borne by medical school graduates as they pursue their education and training to become physicians.

When compared to other types of educational debt, such as undergraduate loans and graduate school loans, medical school debt stands out as one of the highest, emphasizing the significant investment required for a career in medicine. To provide a clearer overview of how medical school debt compares to other types of educational debt, the following table displays the average debt amounts for various educational categories:

Educational Category

Average Debt

Bachelor's degree debt


Graduate school loan debt


Parent PLUS loan debt


Law school debt


MBA student debt


Medical school debt


Dental school debt


Pharmacy school loan debt


Associate Degree Nursing (ADN)


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Veterinary school debt


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How Long Does It Take to Pay Off Medical School Debt?

Paying off medical school debt is a substantial financial commitment, and the time it takes varies. On average, federal student loans for medical school have a 10-year repayment term, but alternative plans can extend it to 30 years for those facing challenges.

Private medical school loans offer terms from five to 20 years, and the duration depends on factors like income, expenses, and eligibility for forgiveness or refinancing. Becoming debt-free post-medical school requires a personalized financial strategy based on individual circumstances and career paths.

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What Are the Steps for Paying Off Medical School Debt?

To navigate the path of paying off medical school debt successfully, there are key steps to consider. These include adjusting repayment plans during residency, exploring loan forgiveness programs for specific career paths, and possibly refinancing loans to reduce interest rates. These strategies can help medical professionals manage their substantial student debt and work towards financial freedom.

Explore Repayment Plan Options

  • Investigate federal income-driven repayment plans for manageable monthly payments during lower-earning years.
  • Compare plans based on your income and family size to find the most suitable one.
  • Adjust your repayment plan as your income increases or changes over time.
  • Take advantage of forbearance or deferment options if facing financial hardship temporarily.
  • Understand the long-term implications of your chosen plan on interest accrual and loan forgiveness.

Investigate Loan Forgiveness Programs

  • Research state and federal loan forgiveness programs tailored to healthcare professionals.
  • Determine eligibility requirements, including service commitments and specific employer types.
  • Weigh the benefits of partial or complete loan forgiveness against potential income sacrifices.
  • Be aware of program deadlines and application procedures to maximize your chances of approval.
  • Evaluate how your career goals align with available forgiveness opportunities.

Assess Interest Rate Reduction through Refinancing

  • Explore options for refinancing medical school loans to secure a lower interest rate.
  • Understand that refinanced loans are not eligible for federal income-driven plans or forgiveness programs.
  • Carefully compare terms and conditions from various lenders before committing.
  • Consider refinancing as a strategy to reduce overall interest costs and accelerate debt repayment.
  • Make informed decisions based on your current financial situation and future financial goals.

Create a Detailed Repayment Plan

  • Develop a comprehensive budget that accounts for living expenses and loan payments.
  • Prioritize paying down your medical school debt by allocating a specific portion of your income.
  • Establish a timeline for achieving your debt-free goals and track your progress regularly.
  • Explore automated payment options to ensure on-time payments and avoid penalties.
  • Be disciplined in adhering to your repayment plan to maintain financial stability.

Seek Professional Guidance

  • Consult with a financial advisor or student loan expert experienced in medical school debt.
  • Gain insights into tailored strategies for your unique financial situation and career goals.
  • Rely on professional expertise to optimize your loan repayment and financial planning.
  • Keep abreast of any changes in loan policies, interest rates, or forgiveness programs through expert guidance.
  • Leverage their knowledge to make well-informed decisions throughout your repayment journey.

Delve deep into the world of borrowing and lending through MarketsHost diverse array of informative content in Loans, ensuring you're well-prepared for every financial endeavour.

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How Can You Decrease Your Medical School Debt?

Navigating and managing medical school debt requires a thoughtful approach, considering various strategies to alleviate the financial burden. By strategically implementing these measures, you can proactively address your medical school debt and work towards achieving financial stability in your medical career. Here are key steps to decrease your medical school debt:

Contemplate Refinancing

Explore refinancing options to secure a lower interest rate on your medical school loans, potentially reducing your overall repayment amount.

Enhancing Financial Knowledge

Invest time in improving your financial literacy to make informed decisions about budgeting, investing, and managing your finances during and after medical school.

Evaluate Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Assess income-driven repayment plans that align your loan payments with your income, providing more manageable monthly payments based on your financial situation.

Exploring Loan Forgiveness Initiatives

Investigate loan forgiveness programs specific to medical professionals, as they may offer opportunities to have a portion of your medical school debt forgiven in exchange for fulfilling certain criteria, such as working in underserved areas.

Investigate Repayment Assistance Programs

Research repayment assistance programs that may be available through employers, medical institutions, or government initiatives to receive financial support in repaying your medical school loans.

Reducing Initial Expenses

Minimize upfront costs by carefully managing your spending and considering cost-effective alternatives for textbooks, housing, and other essential expenses during your medical education.

Utilize Tax Deductions

Leverage tax deductions related to education expenses, loan interest, and other eligible items to maximize your tax benefits and reduce the financial impact of medical school costs.

What is the Average Cost of Attending Medical School?

The average cost of attending medical school is estimated to be between $39,237 and $63,630 for first-year students in the 2021-22 academic year, covering tuition, fees, and health insurance.

However, the total cost of attendance, including living expenses, books, and supplies, ranges from $255,517 to $337,584 over the entire four-year duration of medical school for the Class of 2020. While these figures highlight the financial challenges, some medical schools do offer full-tuition scholarships, providing relief from tuition expenses and allowing students to allocate resources to other essential costs.

How Much Medical School Debt Should One Consider Borrowing?

When contemplating how much medical school debt to borrow, it's essential to personalize the approach. Begin by applying for federal financial aid, exploring grants, and scholarships.

Calculate non-repayable aid, evaluate the gap against total expenses, and borrow only what's necessary, keeping in mind the option to decline any excess loan offer. Balancing the need for funding with minimizing debt is crucial for informed borrowing decisions in medical school.

What is Average Medical School Debt - FAQs

1. What is the average medical school debt in the United States?

The average medical school debt in the United States is approximately $203,062.

2. How long is the standard repayment term for federal student loans used for medical school?

The standard repayment term for federal student loans used for medical school is typically 10 years.

3. Is it worth going to medical school

The value of attending medical school varies depending on individual circumstances and aspirations

4. What is the average cost of attending medical school for first-year students

The average cost of attending medical school for first-year students ranges from $39,237 to $63,630

5. How should I decide how much medical school debt to borrow?

Calculate the gap between your financial aid and total expenses and only borrow what's necessary to cover that gap, striking a balance between minimizing debt and covering education costs

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