A weight off my back

Today, on my way into work, I did something momentous, something that marks a turning point in my life. It was a small act, but one that has lifted a huge weight from me.

I put a check in the mail to pay off the last of my student loans. Free at last! And it’s only been 19 years since I graduated from medical school, too!

Thinking about it, my overall debt when I finished medical school was relatively small, around $55,000 or so. True, it did balloon up to around $80,000 during the years when I could not afford to make payments due to the low pay of residency and the small stipend when I was in graduate school while interest accumulated, but by today’s standards, even that’s still nothing. I really can’t figure out how these kids finishing medical school today $100,000 or even $200,000 or more in debt will be able to pay off their loans before they’ve become considerably older than I am now that I’ve written that last check.

At the risk of turning this blog into the poll of the day after having asked people to relate their memories of 9/11 two days ago, I thought I’d take the chance and dip once more into the well. Those of you who are presently medical students (or are married to, engaged with, or living with a medical student), how much debt do you anticipate having when you finish medical school. Those of you who have finished medical school within the last five years (or are married to, engaged with, or living with a a young physician who has), how much debt did you have when you graduated?

More importantly, from the perspective of an old fart like myself who was worried that I’d still be paying off my student loans until I was ready to retire, how will you manage to pay off your debts?