Dealing With School Debt, 1 Month at a Time
Unless you were blessed with rich parents or had a stellar job before life as a PA, the cost of your education likely still looms over your head. Debts range from $40,000 to $100,000 for new PAs just out of school. Thankfully, there are options for repayment.
A few of my classmates struck a deal with the government to work in underserved areas and receive loan forgiveness in return. This is great for PAs interested in primary care. I don’t know much about these programs, but I’ve heard great things about them.
Another great opportunity is the U.S. Army. You get to live in a number of places while taking care of the soldiers and their families living on the base. Not a bad gig if you are single and like to see different parts of the country or world. Some PAs took out Perkins loans, which allow forgiveness over a period of time if they work in a particular setting. I have a buddy who is working at an ER in Denver, and that qualifies for the Perkins requirements. Rough job.
Maybe you don’t have one of these special programs paying off your debt. What to do?
My wife and I knew we would accumulate a large portion of debt after graduation. We planned to pay off the debt aggressively, but not too crazy. The temptation was to up the quality of life (QOL) and live like rock stars. When you receive that first paycheck, you quickly see how easy it would be to save up over a few months to buy a car, fancy electronics or even a significant down payment on a house. Rather than choose the latter, we barely upped our QOL, saved more each month and found a steady amount to pay off the loans. At this rate, we will pay off the loans in 6 years.
Whatever you choose, it’s best to have a plan and stick to it. There are lifestyle implications whichever way you go. The good news is that you can pay off the debt quickly, because last time I checked, PAs make pretty good money. It’s fun to see the debt dwindle down each month!