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Lives of Doctor Wives: Financial Aid

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Financial Aid

I was on my evening girlfriend walk the other day and one of the girls that I walk with started asking me a bunch of questions about her and her husband's student loans. It occurred to me then that there might be others who would benefit from this information as well since there have been a lot of changes in the last few years.

My name is Adriana. I have been working in financial aid for just over 8 years. My husband is just finishing his third year of residency in OB/GYN. We have three kids Emily (5), Palmer (3), and Logan (3 months). After Logan was born I cut my hours back to part time and I now work from home. Things are crazy at our house but we wouldn't have them any other way. I started blogging about three years ago when Bret started residency. We relocated from KS where we had both grown up and all of our family lived to PA where we knew no one. Needless to say it was a really rough first year but has gotten much better. My blog FromKStoPA is private but I am happy to invite anyone who is interested to have access just send me an email.

Financial aid is a really big topic even when you narrow it down to things we as wives would need to know (like deferment, repayment, consolidation, etc). Sometimes when I give presentations I would get the glossy eye way over the head look from people. I realized a long time ago that it helps to break it down into smaller topics in more than one post. Also feel free to post questions or other topics too. If I don't know the answer I can probably find it out or at least point you in the right direction.

Like most students, taking out student loans is a very buy now pay later mindset. We borrow because we need the money now and we have this assurance that "someday" we will have a good job and will be able to pay those loans back. Most of us try to hold off on making any payments as long as possible. In fact most students that I see (and most of my husband's colleagues) have only a general idea of how much they have actually borrowed, what the interest rates are, and or how much their monthly payments will be. Realizing that most them have borrowed for at least 8 years (assuming 4 years undergrad and 4 years med school) we sometimes lose track.

The first step is to figure out how much you owe, who you owe to, and what your interest rates are. One of the best places to do this is at the National Student Loan Data system www.nslds.ed.gov To have access to this information you will need to have the borrower's PIN which can be found at www.pin.ed.gov

This website keeps track of all of the student's Stafford loans. Each individual loan is listed with the amount, date taken, outstanding principle, and outstanding interest. If you have consolidated the loan it will also list the consolidated loan total as well. You can find information on who the lender is and their contact information.

Because of the costs of going to school are so high most students have borrowed more than just Stafford loans. Other types of loans include Perkins and private loans. To find these totals you have to do more leg work. To find out your Perkins total you should contact the school attended. Be sure to contact all schools attended including undergrad. Most schools use University Accounting Service as the collector for repayment. You could also contact them for initial information.

For private loans the easiest way to find all of them at once is to run your credit report. You can run this for free three times a year. Although this doesn't give you your credit score you can get contact information for each of the private loans held. Even if you are pretty sure that you know all of the loans and their contact information it is a good idea to double check. It is the small loans that you forget about that can turn into a real pain in your side.

Once you have a good list (or in our case a spreadsheet lol) of all of your student loans you want to make sure that each lender has accurate contact information. My husband is really bad about keeping track of anything bill wise. We have an email address set up that we both have access to so that I can help keep track of things like student loan notices.

Keeping track of all of the loans is half the battle. The second half of the battle is repayment (or keeping from having to pay them until residency is over). In my next post I will talk about deferment, forbearance, economic hardship, minimal income repayment, consolidation, and repayment options. I am happy to cover other topics that there might be questions about. I wasn't sure where to start and what all to cover. Like I said at the beginning financial aid is such a huge topic that it is hard to know what everyone already knows/understands and what there are questions about. Other topics I feel confident discussing is residency/relocation loans, medical school private loans, and repayment strategies. Something that we are currently working through personally is contract negotiations with the inclusion of student loan relief and medical underserved area loan forgiveness programs. I hope that this information helps!



Blogger Jessica said...

Thanks! I am really looking forward to some of your upcoming posts :)

April 20, 2010 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Melisa said...

So glad to have you here!!

April 20, 2010 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Desiree said...

Thanks for the great info! I look forward to more. I just checked out our Stafford Loan total. I need a margarita after that, but I'm 8 months pregnant so I'll have to settle for some RRLT I guess. :p I have a pretty good idea about private loans since we only took them out last year. Still, yikes! And I also work from home so I understand the craziness! Thank goodness I do or the loan totals would be worse... At least I paid off MY student loans recently so we are just looking at my husband's undergrad & med school loans (he's finishing up 2nd year).

April 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Elle said...

Thanks for the great info... for my medical school costs 38K a year and then at least another 24K to live on... so we're looking at my borrowing $248,000 just to get through school, and by the time I graduate with the accumulated interest it really will be closer to $300,000.... anyway... just saying those numbers out loud freaks me out but also reminds me I need to budget budget budget....

Thank you for all of this information... I'm definitely interested in learning about the minimum income repayment because I know in residency I can really only expect to earn between $25,000-$50,000.

April 20, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger TheFamousStacie said...

@Elle - That sounds about right.

@Adriana - Thanks for the great info. Financial aid is a necessary evil in our world. We owe the typical $300,000ish, that most families w/ 3 kids come out with.

Getting forbearances and deferments have been the nightmare of our residency so far. Some loans that swore to us they could be paid back post residency are forcing us to pay back now! during residency! We can't make ends meet as it is (ie my last post). Very frustrating.

I have a question for ya! What about fellowship? Since residents and fellows make about the same, how do we avoid paying $3000 a month in student loan payments when fellowship time hits?

btw- I do realize that paying toward student loans during residency is a bright idea. The student loan companies always tell me this when I call. However, this isn't actually possible when my husband is in a residency that FORBIDS moonlighting, is in a high cost of living location, AND we have 3 kids on a resident's salary.

April 20, 2010 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger JLee said...

I would love to hear more information on the residency/relocation loans. My husband will be a MSIV come July...

April 20, 2010 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Thanks Adriana for taking the time to help us all out with this. Loans are such a HUGE part of this medical journey and they can be SO confusing. I for one am definitely looking forward to reading anything you have to share with us. I'm also interested in residency/relocation loans and loan repayment during fellowship. Thanks again!!

April 21, 2010 at 12:27 AM  
Blogger rtfgvb764 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

April 21, 2010 at 2:53 AM  
Blogger Samantha said...

All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you! Every time I think about the hundreds of thousands of dollars we will owe between the two of us it send me into a state of shock. I think you must be our Financial Aid Angel!

I would love to hear more about repayment during fellowship, contract negotiations with the inclusion of student loan relief and medical underserved area loan forgiveness programs.

April 21, 2010 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Behrmans said...

I am very interested in hearing what you have to say about the loans too. My husband is also planning on going into OB/GYN so if you are open to it I would love to follow your blog and see what it’s like. If not, that is ok. It’s just a big comfort to me to see other go through this too. Tammy MSIII

April 21, 2010 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Thanks for sharing Adriana!!! I cant wait to hear more!

We've had two kids so far in medical school/residency and have abour $130,000 in loans and to think of that number scares me to death! I can't wait to hear your opinion on starting to pay on them now, vs waiting until we are in practice!! Thanks again!

April 22, 2010 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Adriana, thanks so much for agreeing to help us better understand the world of loans and repayment. I looking forward to reading more of your posts, and would love to hear about your take/experience with medical underserved area loan forgiveness programs.

Welcome to the group!

April 22, 2010 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Kathi the wingspouse said...

This if fabulous info. I'm tweeting it now!

April 24, 2010 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger SDW said...

Thank you so much! This is something that is a constant worry. It can all be so confusing and daunting.

April 24, 2010 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Adriana said...

If you are interested in following my blog please email me at adriana.heskett at gmail dot com. Thanks!

April 25, 2010 at 10:32 AM  

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