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Should I consider college debt when I consider my career path?

I'm in high school. I want to be a doctor, but I don't know if I can graduate debt free.
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Jennifer’s Answer

Hi, Eli!

With the rising costs of higher education, I think it's difficult not to take your financial situation into account to some extent. Given your potential career path, you are looking at many years of education.

Ultimately, however, I would encourage you to consider what you would like to do and work backwards. If you have an interest in the medical field, what do you need to do to get there? How can you best utilize your time and resources to achieve your goals?

Although it's highly unlikely that you will be able to graduate debt free, there are decisions that you can make to minimize the amount of debt accrued. For example, selecting an undergraduate institution that is within your means may allow you to select a graduate school of your dreams. Not electing to take the maximum amount of loans offered or opting to live with roommates rather than a single room are other ways to reduce costs and minimize future debt.

With that said, ideally debt wouldn't be a significant factor in choosing your career. Selecting a career, in my opinion, should be based on your aptitudes and abilities, your willingness and motivation, and your life's goals and desires.

Good luck in your educational endeavors!

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Ashley’s Answer

I think this is something that only you can answer because it takes you considering what you will make out of your future. Being a college graduate, I've seen people go into debt and never use the degree they obtained. On the other side of that, are people who are able to make a better life for themselves based off of the degree they obtained so the debt was worth it. You have to think about your goals and how does getting your degree align with those goals.

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Richard’s Answer

If you can keep your expenses down (live with parents, attend community college which can be free in some cities, complete your degree at an inexpensive public institution etc) debt doesn't have to be out of control. However the typical student does not do everything they can to decrease expenses then has to be stressed during their first years of practice.

Another unfortunate consequence of debt is limiting the student's choices after graduation. If a student has a passion for pediatrics, but crippling debt, they may be forced to apply to residencies with higher future earning potential.

A typical experience would be to complete residency and become an employee of a group. You aren't able to pay down your debt much because you are saving to become a partner. You buy into the group and then start making partnership money. That's when you are able to really tackle that debt.

But typically you are looking at 10-15 years to pay back your student debt.

On a side note, watch this video which compares a UPS driver to a physician. It makes a lot of assumptions about debt and saving/investment, but concludes that the average primary care physician doesn't become financially better off than a driver until age 53.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2503XQU1feE

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Jessica’s Answer

While everyone's situation is different and the cost/debt potential of schooling will be a much higher concern for some, there are certainly cost-effective ways to approach your desired career path. Do your research and consider the costs of each program/school before applying/deciding where to attend. Program costs vary wildly from one school to the next, and there are of course other cost-saving measures to think about: Is the school in a city (e.g., NYC) where the cost of living will be very high or is it in a relatively inexpensive area? Is housing provided with your program? Will you be a TA/receiving any kind of teaching/research stipend (some programs even waive the cost if you're a TA - this was the case for me at Florida State)? Are there grants you can apply for? Would you be able to live at home/with family to save on costs? There are myriad factors to consider and if you do your due diligence (research, budgeting, visiting/speaking to current students at programs you're considering), you can likely find a way to make the finances work that results in a manageable amount of debt.

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Dennis’s Answer

College students choose their job fields for many reasons. The factors that affect this decision include family, passion, salary,and past experiences. In addition to these factors, race and gender can also affect what field a student may choose. Some professions have greater percentages of a certain gender or race.

Students who graduate with debt may put off life milestones such as buying a car, owning a home, getting married, or entering certain low-paying professions like teaching or social work. This is will pass. Follow your dreams!

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Dee’s Answer

A career as a doctor can be very expensive with college expenses just with the amount of going to school alone for many years. You'll want to look at keeping expenses down by living at home, working during school to be able to pay for some of the expenses. I also recommend working for a hospital or medical field while in school as they may offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs and you're able to gain valuable experience while going to school.

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Mike’s Answer

I would say the answer is yes, you should weigh the amount of debt you're taking on and the potential field you will be heading into post graduation. Jobs like teachers, nurses, where post-grad you can pass a certification exam and get a job regardless of where you went to school (for the most part) it may not make sense to go to a very expensive school that you don't necessarily have to. In the end your salary will be a set amount and you'll have large debt to pay off. If you want to go into a field that your school matters more in order to get into the field and the prospective salary is higher it may be worth to take on some college loan debt.

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Mohit’s Answer

Why you're worried about you debts ? If you're good at something you'll pay-off your debts with 1-2 years after college.
always remember "High Risk = High Reward".
But before doing anything be true to yourself first & understand if you really passionate about doing that :)

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Rachel’s Answer

Being a physician is a great job and is well-compensated. However, there are very very few students that graduate debt free without significant financial help from others. That said, you will likely be able to pay off your debt relatively easily (as long as you keep your spending controlled) with your income as a physician.

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Estelle’s Answer

It is definitely something you should consider. By choosing a public medical school and living frugally, you can definitely improve the price. Additionally some medical schools offer work-study and scholarships. Good luck.

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Mike’s Answer

I would say the answer is yes, you should weigh the amount of debt you're taking on and the potential field you will be heading into post graduation. Jobs like teachers, nurses, where post-grad you can pass a certification exam and get a job regardless of where you went to school (for the most part) it may not make sense to go to a very expensive school that you don't necessarily have to. In the end your salary will be a set amount and you'll have large debt to pay off. If you want to go into a field that your school matters more in order to get into the field and the prospective salary is higher it may be worth to take on some college loan debt.

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Christopher’s Answer

I myself have collage debt and know many other people who do as well. But my schooling did get me a career I love. My simplest advice, if possible where you're at, is to do your first 2 years at a community college. Find a 2 year school and make sure the credits will transfer to the University you ultimately want to have on stamped on your degree. You can save thousands of dollars by doing this. I would also explore and apply for government grants.

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