It’s probably not news to you that medical school graduates face some of the highest amounts of student loan debt. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, average debt for 2014 medical school grads was $176,000. For some grads, this number is much higher.
While dealing with student loan debts this high might seem intimidating, the high interest rates pose a challenge to paying off the debt as well.
Assuming a 2014 federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan interest rate of 6.21 percent, interest charges on $176,000 in loans add up to nearly $11,000 per year.
With this in mind, what can you do to pay off your student loans faster and for less money? To help answer that question, Student Loan Hero, Inc., has developed a student loan repayment guide for physicians and medical school graduates. Here are a few highlights from the guide:
- Crunch the Numbers on Your Loans
As shown above, interest adds up fast on six-figure student loan debts. This is especially true with student loan interest rates of 6 percent APR and higher, which aren’t exactly a bargain compared to mortgage rates.
With this in mind, it’s helpful to take stock of your personal student loan situation and determine your own payoff strategy.
- Use a Signing Bonus to Make a Lump-Sum Payment
Using lump-sum payments is an effective way to pay down large chunks of student loan balances. One option for medical professionals: using a signing bonus.
According to the ModernMedicine Network, signing bonuses are becoming more and more common. The average amount is about $24,000, but some reported bonuses as high as $150,000.
The average bonus of $24,000 not only can cover the expense of moving to a new location and setting up housing, it can also pay back a good chunk of your student loan debt.
- Consider Student Loan Refinancing
Student loan refinancing and consolidation has become an attractive option for helping borrowers save money and pay off student loans faster.
Refinancing student loans at a lower interest rate allows borrowers to:
- Save money on interest
- Pay off student loans faster
- Lower monthly payments
- Remove a cosigner
- Switch student loan servicers
When refinancing and consolidating existing private student loans into a new loan, there will likely be few changes to repayment options.
However, we advise borrowers to be aware of the changes when refinancing federal student loans. When refinancing federal student loans with a private lender, borrowers lose access to repayment options like income-based repayment and pay as you earn, as well as certain deferment and forbearance programs. While the savings on interest is a favorable trade-off for some borrowers, it’s something all borrowers should be aware of before making the change.
Disclosure: Student Loan Hero is financially compensated by banks for referring refinancing customers. However, we strive to provide the best student loan repayment information possible and let individual borrowers decide which repayment option is best for them.
Jeffrey Trull is content strategist for Student Loan Hero.