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What Is the Average Student Loan Debt for Doctors in 2024?

What Is the Average Student Loan Debt for Doctors in 2022?
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated January 2, 2024
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
The average student loan debt for doctors in 2024 is tens of thousands of dollars. Research by the Education Data Initiative reveals the average medical school graduate owes $250,995 in total student loan debt as of September 2023. Below we highlight various stats concerning medical school debt.

Average Undergrad Debt

The average premedical undergraduate debt is thousands of dollars, and undergrads may have access to a variety of financial aid options, including grants, scholarships, and loans.As mentioned above, the average medical school graduate owes $250,995 in total student loan debt as of September 2023. That figure includes premed or undergrad debt. The average medical school debt is $202,453 when excluding premed debt obligations, according to the Education Data Initiative.Undergrad and medical school students may apply for financial assistance under the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA® form. The way how FAFSA works is you complete and submit the FAFSA form to apply for federal student aid options, including federal student loans. Med school students may be eligible to receive federal student loans and school aid.

Average Medical School Debt

As mentioned above, the average medical school graduate owes $250,995 in total student loan debt as of September 2023. Much of this debt stems from tuition expenses.The typical medical school cost in the United States is tens of thousands of dollars per year, and the annual cost of medical school can exceed $100,000 for some students. Tuition and fees, along with room and board, books and supplies, transportation expenses, and medical insurance, may each contribute to the average doctor student loan debt.

Average Interest Rate on Medical School Loans

The average interest rate on federal or private student loans can range from under 6% to more than 10% for medical school students.The fixed interest rate on federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans for graduate or professional students stood at 7.05% for loans disbursed to professional students in the 2023-24 school year. Meanwhile, the fixed rate on federal Direct PLUS Loans for parents, graduate students, or professional students stood at 8.05%.Interest rates on federal education loans for med school students may fall below 6% in some years. A federal law passed by Congress, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, ties federal student loan interest rates to the high-yield 10-year Treasury note plus a basis point add-on per loan type and a cap. Unlike the federal government, lenders of private student loans may determine interest rates based upon their individual underwriting standards.The interest rate on Direct PLUS Loans shall not exceed 10.5%, while interest rates on private student loans may exceed 10.5%. The difference between private and federal student loans is that federal student loans are provided exclusively by the U.S. Department of Education, while banks, credit unions, online lenders, and select state-based or state-affiliated organizations may offer private student loans.

Average Time to Pay Off Medical School

It can take borrowers years or decades to pay off medical school debt in some cases. The average time to pay off student loans can range from 10 to 30 years for borrowers with federal student loans and five to 25 years for borrowers with private student loans.Some borrowers may never finish repaying a student loan during their lifetime. What happens to student loans when you die is the debt might be discharged, although some private lenders may demand repayment from your estate.

Average Medical School Degree Salary

The median pay for physicians and surgeons stood at $229,300 per year as of May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which defines median pay as being “the wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.”The broad field of physicians and surgeons includes anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs), among other medical specialties.According to BLS data:
  • 50% of medical doctors in the United States may earn more than $229,300 per year
  • The mean annual wage for general internal medicine physicians as of May 2022 stood at $225,270
  • The mean annual wage for family medicine physicians as of May 2022 stood at $224,460
  • The mean annual wage for general pediatricians as of May 2022 stood at $203,240
Recommended: Do Doctors Get Paid During Residency?

After All of That, Is Medical School Worth It?

Medical school is generally expensive to attend, but doctor student loan debt can be repaid over time if you earn sufficient wages. Data show that physicians and surgeons can earn well over $200,000 per year, making them among the highest earners of all occupations.Whether medical school is worth it or not is something that you can decide for yourself. Medical school may provide you with the knowledge and skills on how to practice medicine, which is an art or science that may save lives when medical emergencies arise.

Tips for Reducing Medical School Loan Repayment Cost

Below we highlight some tips for potentially reducing your medical school loan repayment cost:

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Physicians carrying federal student loan debt may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program in some cases. These doctors may have to work for an employer that’s a not-for-profit community hospital, state or local government community hospital, or federal government hospital.The PSLF program can forgive the remaining balance on your federal student loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly repayments as an eligible public employee.

Student Loan Repayment Assistance

States may offer student loan repayment awards to doctors with student loan debt who agree to practice medicine in those particular states. The Delaware State Loan Repayment Program, for example, may offer a maximum award of $100,000 to eligible practitioners who sign a two-year service contract.Branches of the U.S. armed forces may also offer loan repayment awards to qualified physicians who serve their country in uniform.Recommended: What Military Student Loan Forgiveness Options Are Available?

Student Loan Refinancing

Student loan refinancing may reduce your medical school loan repayment costs if you qualify for a lower interest rate. You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.Refinancing federal student loans can allow borrowers to replace their existing federal loans with the terms and conditions of a private loan agreement. To refinance your student loans, you may submit a student debt refinancing application with a private lender and see whether you qualify.Private lenders can set their own underwriting standards, but some may require applicants to have steady income and good credit. For subprime borrowers, it might be difficult to refinance student loans with bad credit.There are certain advantages and risks of student loan refinancing. Reviewing the pros and cons can help you decide whether refinancing is right for you.One of the advantages of refinancing student loans is it may provide you with a lower interest rate. One of the big disadvantages of refinancing student loans with a private lender, however, is you’ll be forfeiting federal benefits, including income-driven repayment plans and federal student loan debt forgiveness programs like PSLF.Borrowers can make more than the minimum payment when paying off a student loan. Other tips or ideas for repaying student loans include using tax refunds or extra money toward repaying your student debt.

Refinance Your Medical School Loans With Lantern

If you’re burdened with education loan debt and are interested in student loan refinancing, Lantern by SoFi can help. Explore your options and consider applying with a lender of your choice.Find and compare student loan refinance options with Lantern.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions

About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and served as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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