Contribute to Roth IRA or Save For Medical School Loans

Contribute to Roth IRA or Save For Medical School Loans
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I am planning on starting medical school in the fall of 2020. Should I be putting my saved money towards my roth IRA or should I continue to save the money to pay off medical school as I go so I have to take out less loans?


Hi sofiamartone,

Welcome to the NerdWallet community — thanks for writing in!

Medical school – how exciting! It’s great that you’re thinking ahead about how to pay for it and weighing that against your other financial priorities.

I’d recommend contributing to your Roth IRA. With compound interest, the amount you invest now will grow exponentially. And as we like to say around here, you can borrow for college, but you can’t borrow for retirement.

I know it can be daunting to potentially be facing six-figure medical school debt. My fiance is a first-year psychiatry resident and he’s in that boat. But assuming you graduate medical school and become a practicing physician, you’ll eventually earn enough to pay back the debt and more.

Another consideration: You may be able to do both. The IRA contribution limit for 2019 is $6,000. If you max that out, any extra can go toward med school tuition.

Best of luck!

Related reading:
Should You Save, Invest or Pay Off Student Loans?
Paying Off Medical School Debt: 5 Strategies for Doctors


Thank you so much Teddy! That was very helpful!


Seconding @teddy’s advice. You can’t get back lost opportunities to contribute to Roths, and you may lose the ability to do so once you get that degree and start earning big bucks. (Currently, earners who can’t contribute directly to a Roth can do what’s known as a backdoor Roth, but sooner or later Congress is likely to cut off that workaround.)