About 88% of 2014 medical school graduates carry some level of debt.

According to the most recent report by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average debt burden of public school students upon graduation was $160,000, and this figure jumped to $183,000 for private school graduates.

Taking on such a heavy debt burden has become the norm in medical education, and many students do not face the reality of these numbers until they have to start paying their loans. Interest alone can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of the debt accrued by graduation day, and total payments can take decades to pay off – especially for students who attend some of the top medical schools.

There are several loan repayment options, allowing students to choose the plans that will best fit their own goals and lifestyles. Sample repayment options and their respective monthly payments are available on the AAMC website. For more individualized information, the AAMC Medloans Organizer and Medloans Calculator can help prospective and current medical students estimate their own monthly repayments during and after residency.

Students must seriously consider how their medical school loans will affect their financial futures. Is the name of a highly ranked private school truly worth several thousand dollars more than that of your in-state public school? Are you willing to dedicate years of service for the military or in a health shortage area to offset exorbitant loans? These are all options students should think about before the monthly bills start rolling in.

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