Tips for Choosing a Medical School

Choosing the Right Medical School

Medical school is a big commitment. Not only will students spend four years of their life working towards a medical degree, but they’ll pay a big chunk of change for it (financing medical school is a major undertaking and can lead to debt). Which is why choosing the right medical school is so important. Keep reading for insight into how to pick the right medical school and how to finance it.

What Is Medical School?

Medical school is a necessary step towards becoming a doctor and generally, it takes four years to complete in order to receive an M.D., N.D., or D.O. degree. After medical school, graduates will need to pursue a medical residency in their specialty before they can become practicing doctors.

Recommended: How to Pay for Medical School

Different Types of Medical Courses

One of the first steps potential medical students can take to find the right medical school for them, is to better understand the different types of medical courses there are. Once they know what type of medical courses they want to take, they can narrow their search to just medical schools that offer those courses.

Traditional Courses

Some medical students may be attracted to more traditional courses that have students finish two years of pre-clinical work before they move on to the three years of clinical work they need to complete to get their degree. Typically, pre-clinical work occurs in a classroom setting. This is where medical students can learn the key principles of medical science. Once they move on to the clinical work portion of their studies, they will need to work in hospitals or clinics with direct supervision, while attending lectures.

This combination educates students on medical practices while making sure they get the hands-on experience they need to use their pre-clinical knowledge in real life situations.

Integrated Courses

Integrated courses are becoming more and more popular at medical schools, as this style, of course, combines pre-clinical and clinical education. In an integrated course, medical students can expect to learn practical clinical skills and work through problem-based learning.

Often in integrated courses, a lot of the students’ work is self-directed and early patient contact is encouraged.

Intercalated Courses

Intercalated courses are unique, as they allow students to take a year out of medical school to earn a BSc or MSc in a related subject. It’s not a guarantee that every medical school will allow students to do this, but in some schools students have the option or are mandated to do intercalated courses.

Recommended: Making Sense of the Rising Cost of Medical School

How to Choose Your Medical School

Every medical student had to ask themself at one point, which medical school is right for me? Here’s a few factors medical students can take into consideration to make answering that very important question easier.

1. Cost

Med school tuition is pricey and it’s not uncommon for students to take on debt for medical school. On top of tuition, students will also need to pay additional costs such as service fees and textbooks.

While medical schools do offer financial aid such as grants and medical school scholarships to their students, it’s important to prepare for the cost of medical school as not everyone receives financial assistance.

Attending an in-state school could help medical students find a lower tuition cost than at out-of-state or private options. For example, at the University of Utah, tuition for medical school if the student lives in-state is about $40,000 a year, whereas out-of-state students can expect to pay closer to $77,000 a year on tuition at the same school.

Each school charges different tuition rates, but generally, staying in-state can save medical students a lot of money.

Recommended: Average Cost of Medical School

2. Programs Offered

Apart from their general MD program, medical schools typically have multiple programs to choose from that lead to different careers paths. Before applying to medical school, students can take into consideration how many different programs are offered, how many students are accepted to each program, how long their ideal program takes to finish, and how that program aligns with their career goals.

3. Admissions Criteria

One of the easiest ways to start a search for the right medical school is by looking for schools where the applicant meets the admissions criteria. Students can do some research on the admissions criteria for each school to make sure their qualifications lineup, as well as what they need to do to apply to each specific school.

4. Location

Location matters. The location of a medical school can affect how much it costs a student to attend, what their housing situation looks like, and what their lifestyles outside of school is like. By choosing a local school, students may be able to save money on tuition or be able to cut costs by living with a family member. Not to mention, some locations simply have a higher cost of living than others. Students can crunch the numbers on what it would cost them to live at each medical school they want to apply to, so they can get a better idea of what attending medical school will cost them as a whole.

5. Career Path Opportunities

There are a wide variety of career opportunities that can arise after medical school and not all of them involve working as a practicing doctor. Medical school graduates can pursue teaching, research, and business opportunities amongst other exciting career paths. Students can check what career path opportunities a school’s curriculum and counseling center support before they apply to get a feel for if that medical school can help them meet their unique career goals.

SoFi’s Private Student Loans For Medical School

Students that need to take out medical school student loans, may find that SoFi’s private student loans can meet their needs. It only takes minutes to apply online and borrowers can apply with a cosigner. Keep in mind that because private student loans don’t have to offer the same benefits or protections as federal student loans (like the opportunity to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness), they are generally considered by students only after they have thoroughly reviewed all other financing options.

Borrowers can repay their SoFi student loans in a way that works for them by choosing a monthly student loan payment and rate that fits their budget. Borrowers never have to worry about fees and can enjoy a six-month grace period after graduation so that they have time to get settled in their post-grad life before they need to start making monthly loan payments.

Recommended: Smart Medical School Loan Repayment Strategies

The Takeaway

Choosing medical schools to apply to is a lot of work, but that research is a key step students need to take to find the best medical school for them.

For help covering the costs of medical school, learn more about SoFi private student loans.


Is 30 too old for med school?

No, 30 is not too old to attend medical school. Applicants that apply for medical school will be in their mid-thirties four years later whether or not they pursue a degree. It’s up to them if those four years make a difference in the scheme of things.

What makes a good med school?

A good medical school is one that meets the needs of the student, when it comes to location, finances, and program opportunities.

How do you compare med schools?

Potential medical students can take factors like cost, location, and areas of study into account to compare and contrast their different medical school options.

Photo credit: iStock/Courtney Hale

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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Student Loan Options: What Is Refinancing vs. Consolidation?

Student loans can have a way of making you feel like a hamster in a wheel—spinning like crazy but getting nowhere fast. And while knowing that around 44 million Americans carry student loan debt might offer some comfort in a “misery loves company” kind of way, the magical loan-forgiveness fairy is still—as far as we know—a myth.

In the meantime, though, there’s a bit of good news—you may have more control than you think. We are here to help illuminate some options available to student loan holders, so they can make decisions that fit best with their financial goals.

Have you been considering one of those options—choosing whether to consolidate or refinance student loans?

But what is consolidation, what is refinancing, and how do you know which one (if either) may be right for you?

This could be a somewhat complicated question, especially since these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. For example, consolidation simply means combining multiple student loans into one loan, but you have different options and can end up with different results by consolidating with the federal government vs. consolidating with a private lender.

Student loan refinancing is when you receive a loan with new terms and use that loan to pay off one or more existing student loans.

Consolidate vs. Refinance. Let’s break it down.

Here’s a simple overview of the different types of student loan consolidation, how they differ from student loan refinancing, and some tips for evaluating whether one of these options might work for you.

Federal Student Loan Consolidation

Federal student loan consolidation is offered by the government and is available for most types of federal student loans—no private loans allowed. When you consolidate with the government, your existing federal loans are combined into one new loan with a new rate, which is a weighted average of your old loans’ rates (rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent).

This option may not save you any money, but there are still a few potential benefits:

1. Fewer bills and payments to keep track of each month.

2. The ability to switch out older, variable rate federal loans for one, new, fixed rate loan, which could protect you from having to pay higher rates in the future if interest rates go up. (Note: the last variable rate federal student loans were disbursed in 2006. Since then, all federal student loans have been fixed-rate.)

3. Lower monthly payments. But beware—this is usually the result of lengthening your repayment term, which means you might pay more interest over the life of the loan.

Private Loan Consolidation

Like federal consolidation, a private consolidation loan allows you to combine multiple loans into one, and offers some of the same potential benefits listed above. However, the interest rate on your new, consolidated loan is not a weighted average of your old loans’ rates.

Instead, a private lender will look at your track record of managing credit and other personal financial information when deciding whether to give you a new (ideally lower) interest rate on your new consolidation loan.

Bottom line: when you consolidate student loans with a private lender, you are also in fact refinancing those loans. When federal student loans are consolidated or paid off using a private loan, however, it’s important to know you will lose access to certain benefits such as income-driven repayment plans, forbearance and deferment options, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (among others).

Student Loan Refinancing

As noted above, student loan refinancing is when a new loan from a private lender is used to pay off one or more existing student loans. If your financial situation has improved since you first signed on the dotted line for your original student loans(s), you may be able to refinance student loans at a lower interest rate and/or a different loan term, which could potentially allow you to do one or more of the following:

1. Lower your monthly payments.

2. Shorten your loan term to pay off debt sooner.

3. Reduce the money you spend in interest over the life of the loan.

4. Choose a variable interest rate loan, which can be a cost-saving option for those who plan to pay off their loan relatively quickly.

5. Enjoy the benefits of consolidation, including one simplified monthly bill.

Unlike federal loan consolidation, student loan refinancing is only available from private lenders. However, SoFi will refinance both private student loans and federal student loans, so well-qualified borrowers can consolidate all of their loans into one with loans and/or terms that work better for them.

Things to Consider

While there are advantages to both consolidation and refinancing, sometimes the answer—depending on timing, your budget, or other outside factors—could be to leave well enough alone. As you research your options, consider asking yourself these questions:

What kind of student loans do you have?

Refinancing federal student loans through a private lender might result in a lower interest rate, but you will also lose access to the benefits that come with federal loans, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), flexible repayment plans, the ability to pause payments, and an interest rate that’s determined by Congress—not your credit score.

If your loans are private, they were issued based on creditworthiness to begin with, so a refinanced loan will follow similar qualifications, and each private lender will have its own underwriting criteria.

What is the loan payoff amount?

While the amount of a monthly payment is important, especially if a refinance could reduce it, it’s wise to read through all the terms of the loan to understand the big picture.

Are the monthly payments lower because the loan is now on a 20-year term instead of a 10-year term? Are there loan origination fees rolled into the payment? Knowing the full, total repayment amount can help ensure that short-term gains don’t bite you in the long run.

Named a Best Student Loan Refinance Company
by U.S. News and World Report.

What’s the goal?

Consider your reasons for a refinance or consolidation—lowering monthly payments, keeping better track of due dates, or paying off debt as quickly as possible will likely lead to different strategies.

Your monthly budget and what you can (and can’t) afford to put toward your loan repayment will also play a factor here. One way to help ensure the right decision for you is to play with your budget a bit to see which loan options might benefit you most.

What factors do lenders review?

This isn’t typically an issue when it comes to consolidating loans through the federal government. But people interested in refinancing student loans with a private lender will likely need to meet various lender requirements, much like they would for a mortgage or personal loan.

Lenders generally review information like the borrower’s credit history, income, debt-to-income ratio, and other factors to determine what type of interest rate and loan terms they may qualify for.

You may not be able to change the fact that you have student loans, but you can make smart decisions about them. And that’s what ultimately gives you power over your debt. For more information about student loans, you can explore SoFi’s student loan help center to find guidance and gain knowledge to help point you in the right direction.

Ready to refinance your student loans? Start today!

$500 Student Loan Refinancing Bonus Offer: Terms and conditions apply. Offer is subject to lender approval, and not available to residents of Ohio. The offer is only open to new Student Loan Refinance borrowers. To receive the offer you must: (1) register and apply through the unique link provided by 11:59pm ET 11/30/2021; (2) complete and fund a student loan refinance application with SoFi before 11/14/2021; (3) have or apply for a SoFi Money account within 60 days of starting your Student Loan Refinance application to receive the bonus; and (4) meet SoFi’s underwriting criteria. Once conditions are met and the loan has been disbursed, your welcome bonus will be deposited into your SoFi Money account within 30 calendar days. If you do not qualify for the SoFi Money account, SoFi will offer other payment options. Bonuses that are not redeemed within 180 calendar days of the date they were made available to the recipient may be subject to forfeit. Bonus amounts of $600 or greater in a single calendar year may be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as miscellaneous income to the recipient on Form 1099-MISC in the year received as required by applicable law. Recipient is responsible for any applicable federal, state, or local taxes associated with receiving the bonus offer; consult your tax advisor to determine applicable tax consequences. SoFi reserves the right to change or terminate the offer at any time with or without notice.

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .


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Consolidating Student Loans with a Spouse

Whether you just got married or you’ve been with your spouse for years, you may be thinking about combining your finances.

Doing so can be challenging, especially if you both have different perspectives on managing money. But it can also help simplify your financial plan and potentially even help you save money.

With an average of $37,172 in student loan debt per borrower , it’s more important than ever to find ways to simplify and accelerate the debt repayment process. Refinancing student loans with a spouse could help you achieve both goals.

Consolidating Through the Department of Education

If you have federal student loans, you can consolidate your loans with a Direct Consolidation Loan .

If you do, the Department of Education will take the weighted average of the interest rates from all of your loans and round it up to the nearest one-eighth of a percent.

This means that consolidating your loans with the government may help simplify your loan repayment, replacing several monthly payments with just one.

Consolidating student loans with a spouse isn’t an option through the Direct Loan Consolidation program. You can only combine loans with your name on them, making it impossible to add your spouse.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

While the federal government won’t let you consolidate student loans with your spouse, a private student loan lender, like SoFi, will.

The process isn’t always straightforward, though. Typically, you would apply for a refinancing loan and add your spouse as a cosigner. Not only would this help you combine your finances, but it could also help you spend less money in interest on your new loan.

That’s because your interest rate is typically determined by your creditworthiness and income, and adding a cosigner with a strong credit history and solid income can help you secure a lower rate, even if your credit history is strong on its own.

To give you an idea of how much you can save on interest, let’s say your (not consolidated) federal student loan debt is $30,000 with a weighted average interest rate of 6%. (For the record, the 6% interest rate is a hypothetical based on a federal graduate and undergrad loans, which currently have fixed interest rates of 5.05% on the low end and 7.6% on the high end, depending on the loan.) On a 10-year Standard Repayment Plan , your monthly payment would be around $333, and you’d pay about $9,967 in interest over the life of your loans.

Now, let’s say you were to refinance your student loans with a private lender and qualified for a 5% fixed rate with your spouse as a cosigner. If you were to keep a 10-year repayment term, your monthly payment would be about $318, and you’d pay around $8,184 in interest.

That’s a savings of nearly $1,783 that you can use for other financial goals. To see how refinancing could impact your student loans, you can take a look at our easy-to-use student loan refinance calculator.

Considerations to Think About

Student loan debt and marriage may be a challenge, so it’s important to make sure refinancing student loans with your spouse is a good choice for your situation.

The primary consideration is that both you and your spouse as a cosigner would be legally responsible for paying off the debt. This means that if you experience financial hardship and miss payments or default, it could ruin both of your credit histories.

Some student loan refinance lenders offer a cosigner release program that allows you to remove a cosigner after a set number of consecutive, on-time payments.

Another thing to consider is that refinancing federal student loans will result in the loss of certain benefits the Department of Education provides. Specifically, private lenders typically don’t offer income-driven repayment plans. Also, you won’t be eligible for certain federal student loan programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

So as you consider the benefits of consolidating student loans with a spouse through refinancing, make sure you also include the drawbacks in your process.

Finding Out Your Potential Savings

Having student loans in a marriage can be challenging, but with open communication, you can stay on track.
If you’re even remotely considering refinancing your student loans with your spouse as a cosigner, check your rate offers to see if doing so can save you money. Whether or not you qualify for a lower interest rate, exploring the option may help make your decision easier.

When you refinance with SoFi, there are no prepayment penalties or origination fees. Find your rates in just two minutes.

The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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