Seventy-five percent of medical school students in the class of 2018 graduated with student debt, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Among those graduates, the average student loan debt was $196,520, up from $190,694 in 2017. Those figures include debt from medical school, undergraduate studies and other higher education.
With a $197,000 student loan balance, you’d owe $2,212 a month on the standard, 10-year federal repayment plan, assuming a 6.25% average interest rate.
Average medical school debt
Medical school graduates tend to have larger student loan balances than people whose highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree. But doctors aren’t the only professionals with outsized student debt.
Here’s how the average medical school debt compares to other fields for the class of 2017, the most recent year all of the data is available:
- Average medical school debt: $190,694.
- Average dental school debt: $287,331.
- Average pharmacy school debt: $163,494.
- Average bachelor’s degree debt: $28,650.
Sources: American Dental Education Association, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, The Institute for College Access and Success.
Median medical school debt
The median medical school loan balance — where half of graduates owe less and half owe more — is a better measure of the typical doctor’s debt burden than the average medical school debt. In 2018, that figure was $200,000.
Unsurprisingly, most of doctors’ college debt is from medical school. The median medical school debt, not including loans from premedical education, was $195,000 among 2018 graduates with medical school loans.
Newly minted doctors who attended private medical schools tend to have more student debt than those who attended public ones, according to AAMC’s data. The median student loan balance was $210,000 among graduates with debt from a private medical school, compared to $190,000 among medical graduates with debt from a public one.
How to tackle medical school debt
You may have lots of medical debt, but you likely have the income — or income potential — to manage it. Below are a few tips to help you get started. Check out our guide to paying off medical school debt for more strategies.
- Switch repayment plans. If you can’t afford to make full monthly payments during residency, switch to a federal income-driven repayment plan to reduce the monthly amount you owe.
- Seek forgiveness. If you’re planning a career in public health or in an underserved area, consider a medical school loan forgiveness program. There are several state and federal programs that will pay or forgive a portion of your debt in exchange for your commitment to work for a certain type of employer or in a specific location for a period of time.
- Reduce your interest rate. Refinancing medical school loans can save you money and help you be debt-free faster. Refinanced loans aren’t eligible for federal repayment plans or forgiveness programs.