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Dealing With Medical School Debt from St George’s Medical School

September 23, 2018

You left St George's medical school owing over $300k in student loans. You need help. Here's what to do about your SGU medical school debt.

So you went to St George’s Medical School University in Grenada. Or maybe you’re in need of a second chance at medical school, and you’re thinking about attending.

No matter.

The quality of the education you’ll get at SGU isn’t what this post is about. Instead, I want to talk with you about paying off the medical school debt you incurred while at SGU medical school.

Let’s start with the cost…

St George’s University School of Medicine tuition

What you’ll actually pay during your time at St George’s is a little unclear.

st georges medical school debt

I haven’t seen where they provide a total cost of all your time at SGU. What I have found is the projected cost for the 2018-2019 school year.

sgu med school cost

As you can see, the total cost of attendance for the year is $91,496.

Now, compared to the other Caribbean medical school costs, St George’s tuition cost of about $49 thousand is a few thousand higher than what you’ll pay to attend Ross Medical School:

ross medical school tuition cost

And it’s also higher than St Matthews Medical School tuition:

st matthews tuition cost

That said, based on reports from alums of St George, tuition, fees, room, and other costs increase each year. Because of that, it wouldn’t be surprising if you end up paying about $300 thousand for your medical degree.

Cost of living while attending a Grenada medical school

Aside from the expected increase to your direct educational cost year after year, you’ll also have to deal with the increased cost of living.

St George’s warns medical students to “stick to a budget, because many items you typically buy will cost more than you are used to paying.”

To get a better idea of the cost of living in Grenada, try using this calculator at numbeo.com.

grenada med school cost of living

Sidenote. Much like Wikipedia, numbeo gets its information from voluntary contributors. Because of that, there’s a risk these numbers may not be all that reliable. At the time I used the site, the cost of living numbers was based on the input of 6 different contributors.

Help dealing with SGU medical school loans

Let’s break this down into two sections: help with federal student loans and help with private student loans. The reason we’ll do this is that the options available to you depend on whether your loans or federal or private.

SGU Medical school loans from the federal government

St George’s participates in the federal financial aid program. Chances are then, the bulk of your loans for medical school are federal student loans.

That’s a good thing.

The bulk of your loans are likely eligible for various programs offering student loan forgiveness for doctors. The 2 big ones are:

  1. 10-year loan forgiveness for doctors. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will forgive all of your federal Direct Student Loans after you’ve made 120 monthly payments while working full-time at a government or nonprofit hospital.
  2. NHSC loan repayment program. The NHSC program offers some loan forgiveness for primary care doctors who agree to work for 2 years at an NHSC approved site.

Another good thing about having federal student loans are the repayment options. Your federal loans are eligible for the various income driven repayment programs. Each of those programs is income based, meaning they all calculate your monthly payment using your income.

The income-driven repayment programs are:

  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  • Income Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Income Contingent Repayment (ICR)

Of those programs, the PAYE and REPAYE are the best. They each offer the lowest monthly payment and shortest wait for income-driven forgiveness.

Sidenote. The 2 programs are different though. Read REPAYE vs. PAYE to learn more.

You’d choose the IBR program only if you have non-Direct federal student loans. And you choose the ICR program if you have Parent PLUS loans.

To calculate your loan repayment, use the Repayment Estimator at studentloans.gov.

Physician loan repayment options for private student loans

The private student loans you borrowed while at St George’s are more difficult to deal with then your federal student loans.

Private student loan forgiveness options exist only if you’re disabled or dead.

And private student loans don’t offer physician loan repayment programs that would lower your monthly payments. So…

What then to do about the private medical school debt?

In my experience, if you can’t afford your monthly payments, you have at least 3 options:

  1. Refinance with a lender like Earnest;
  2. Negotiate a settlement; or
  3. Try and discharge them in bankruptcy.

Of course, there’s always the option to try and pay what you can, when you can. The problem with doing that is you’ll end up spending several thousand dollars, and the balance won’t have gone anywhere. So that’s likely a bad idea.

So where does that leave you?

Refinancing can work — especially if you can get a lower interest rate and maybe a longer repayment term if need be.

Settlements are great. But they come at a cost. Typically, you’ll have to be in default on your loan, which means your credit score will likely take a major hit.

And bankruptcy? Well, it could work — especially if you borrowed more in private student loans than your cost of attendance — but it comes with a risk. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get rid of your private student loans.

Help with SGU medical school debt post-graduation

There are a lot of options for dealing with your medical school debt. If you want help in developing the right strategy for you, email me or…

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