Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy

The financial impact of medical education is great and lasts long after you sign your promissory note, but rest assured you can afford to pay back the money if you make sound financial choices along the way. Don’t live beyond your means in medical school or residency. Know what your school costs will be, examine your spending habits, develop a budget, and eliminate or at least substantially reduce your personal debt before starting medical school.

Creating a Budget

The concept of budgeting can be taught in a matter of hours.  Many computer and internet-based products are available that perform the budgeting function automatically. In order for you to truly understand budgeting, you must understand the components of a budget and then must actually maintain one over a period of time. It’s highly recommended that you track your expenses for no less than 6-8 weeks.

Calculate Your Expenses

This is not fun—in fact, it is rather tedious.  However, no matter how complicated your expenses are, this should not take you more than an hour.  Sit down, open your laptop or your notebook, and start writing.  If money regularly comes out of your pocket for an expense, it should go onto the page.  Leave aside your “luxuries” for now and concentrate on things like bills, rent, and tuition.  Be sure to throw in things like gas and oil changes if you own a vehicle.

Adding and Comparing

Now add all of your monthly expenses together and compare with your anticipated income as a medical student:

  • If you are relying on student loans to cover your tuition and/or living expenses, your federal student loan offer will be the same amount as the PNWU Estimated Cost of Attendance (COA).  Compare your budget figures with the PNWU COA; as long as your “income” (student loan funds remaining after tuition is paid) from your loans is the same or greater than your expenses, you are fine.  In fact, you may be able to borrow less, based on your expenses. However, if your expenses exceed the amount of the PNWU COA, you need to identify where/how to cut back. 
  • If you are not relying on federal student loans and you have a source of income that will meet your expenses, you are doing well!  Just be careful not to incur unnecessary credit card debt to continually meet your expenses. 
  • Be sure to speak with the PNWU financial aid office for advice and assistance!

Reevaluate

As you are trying to budget, take a moment to think about what you can remove.  Are there services you can do without?  For example, if you do not need the top tier of Internet services, why not take a downgrade?  If your cable service is an unnecessary expense, let it go.  Reevaluation allows you to take a look at things that are no longer necessary and get them off your plate while in medical school.

Include Fun

Just because you are budgeting (and mired with studies) doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or family outings.  If you take the fun out of your life, you are drastically increasing the chance that you will splurge on things on a whim and you may not study as well if you aren’t scheduling well-deserved breaks.  Allocate some funds for having fun, but plan ahead and look for deals.  Ask family members for gift cards to local movie theaters or tickets to local events for gift ideas. Plan movie/popcorn nights at home and invite friends!

Expect the Unexpected

Try to set aside some kind of emergency funds if at all possible. Emergencies do happen, and if you are riding close to the edge you may find that one emergency, no matter how minor, can make a huge difference in how you move forward.  Many unexpected expenses can be added to your PNWU COA and your student loan can be increased, so be sure to speak with the financial aid office as needed.

Credit Reports

Be advised that credit criteria used to review/approve student loans can include the following:

  • Absence of negative credit
  • No bankruptcies, foreclosures, repossessions, charge-offs, or open judgments
  • No prior educational loan defaults unless paid in full or making satisfactory progress in repayment
  • Absence of excessive past due accounts, i.e., no 30-, 60- or 90-day delinquencies on consumer loans or revolving charge accounts within the past two years.

Free credit reports can only be obtained online, by phone (877.322.8228), or by writing to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Note: You are also entitled to a free copy of your credit report if you have been denied credit within the past 60 days.

We recommend that you get a copy of your credit report once a year, paying particular attention to the number of accounts, account balances, and the timely manner in which monthly payments have been paid. Comprehensive consumer credit information on a wide variety of topics is readily available on Federal Government web sites.

If you have a credit issue that needs to be resolved or suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft, please visit the web site of the Federal Trade Commission for information and guidance.

Education Tax Incentives

IRS Publication 970, information on tax incentives and other issues related to financial aid on the IRS website.

Financial Aid Links

Financial Aid Modules for Student Loan Borrowers

Take time to watch the AACOM/CSFAA Financial Aid Modules for Osteopathic Medical School Students and Graduates.  This is a series of educational debt management modules.  Each module contains specific information and resources to help osteopathic medical students borrow strategically as well as ensure they are prepared to responsibly repay their loans after they graduate and enter residency training.  The module topics are: