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Bridging the gap: Financial options for physicians

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A longer version of this article appeared in PracticeLink Magazine’s 2015 Quality of Life Issue. 

Bridging the gap: Financial options for physicians

While many people assume physicians are flush, the fact is that many face the same financial challenges as those in other professions—and even more, in many cases. Between extended training periods and massive student loans, major life decisions often end up on hold. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Many physicians are finding relief through innovative solutions that bring a bright financial future closer than you may think.

Student loan debt

On average, residents who make a little more than $50,000 pay just more than $400 per month toward student loan debt thanks to the extended Income-Based Repayment (IBR) option for recent med school grads. Though qualifying for a mortgage should be a breeze based on these figures, the equation is complicated by the fact that traditional home mortgages must take into account the full monthly student loan payment—which, for some, is upwards of $1,000—pricing many physicians out of the mortgage market.

PhysicianLoans, a specialty division of Tower Mortgage Corporation, presents an appealing alternative by offering special mortgage financing that accepts IBR student loan financing. Graduating medical students and residents as well as practicing physicians are eligible for physician loans, which have low-interest rates and require little to no money down, taking into account future income instead.

A penny saved: Saving for retirement

Many physicians put off saving for retirement while they pay back student loan debt. In fact, according to one industry estimate, most physicians don’t start saving for retirement until after age 40. This is not only detrimental to physicians’ ability to achieve their goals, but also unnecessary.

Debt’s interference with life

According to Medscape, 36 percent of residents still owe more than $200,000 in medical school loans a full five years post-residency. This immobilizing debt can even interfere with plans for marriage and family starting. In fact, 41 percent of respondents in an American Student Assistance survey indicated that they couldn’t simultaneously afford to have children and pay off their student loans.

Physicians’ lives do not, however, have to be dictated by debt. By understanding the unique financial options available to them, physicians can overcome their obstacles, become debt-free and start enjoying their bright futures now.

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