There is no denying that the costs of medical education have risen at a rate much quicker than that of inflation and that most medical students are burdened by huge debts even after they’ve left school. However, the Assn. of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) claimed that the rise of student debt levels have slowed down, if not stopped increasing in the recent years.
According to the President of the American Medical Student Assn. (AMSA) Elizabeth Wiley, MD, MPH, the claim though is somehow deceptive. The current student debt averages at $162,000 and though it may have actually leveled off, it is still an alarming sum. She pointed that it is an amount that not all aspiring physicians can easily afford or pay off. Based on an AAMC report released in July, a $162,000 debt will require a medical student to shell out $1,500 to $2,100 per month, after residency training.
Debt loads have reportedly stabilized for several reasons, among which are the various changes done on federal loan programs. AAMC director of student financial services Julie Fresne said that masses of medical students have resorted to federal Stafford Loans for their education costs. In 2006, however, the loan interests were adjusted to a fixed rate of 6.8% which was originally set at a low variable rate. According to Fresne, this discourages the students from borrowing at all.
While debt levels have leveled off, tuition fees still rise drastically. The AAMC reported that in the last 13 years, the costs of allopathic medical school have grown at 1.8 times the rate of inflation. From 1988-99, its average four-year cost was $155,875. Further down the road in 2010-11, the amount has reached $263,964. As for public schools, medical education expenses rose from $96,796 to $187,393.
Fresne pointed that different factors merged to cause the dramatic increase over the decade.