July 2017 · Student MD Journey

Financing Continued Education

So I’m sitting here on an extra plushy royal blue couch attempting to draft my first blog post while the baby sleeps –during my rare downtime. No, he’s not my baby. I’m a nanny. Mostly to average American families, but every so often, yes, to the families of the top 1%. I enjoy my job a lot but its not something I hope to do forever. Some days are more eventful than others, but my time with the babies and children are always cherished. I currently have a six month old I’ll be keeping until it’s time to go back to school in August. Speaking of which, let’s talk about financing continued  education and the things I didn’t know before embarking on this journey towards a career in medicine.
I technically began my journey two years ago. I did a lot of research about post baccs, which will be key in helping me matriculate into medical school. I took a course at a suggested community college in Culver City, CA that would help me get up to par in the mathematics area. I did extremely well and enjoyed the challenge. Unfortunately, Because I was paying cash, and couldn’t qualify for financial aid or any federal loans I started to think my dream of remaining in school full-time would no longer be possible. I still had nearly 40 credit hours to complete and had barely gotten started. And as a single woman living alone and supporting myself, I had to go back to working full-time to make ends meet.
Eventually months went by and then years went by. Eventually, hoping for a change in environment and opportunity, I picked up and moved to DC. Lucky for me, I had someone in town who I could stay with for a few months until I got settled. So with housing covered (what a blessing) I was able to reconsider pursuing this dream once more. I applied to all the best schools in DC and was accepted as a non career seeking student to begin classes this fall.
I decided to go this route to bolster up my transcripts. To prove to myself and to prospective post bacc programs that I can do this! To prove that I have what it takes to be competitive in a science and math heavy curriculum. With a clear plan, all I needed to do next was paying for these classes. I truly thought it would be as simple as calling Sallie Mae and getting a loan. Easy peasy.
Not so fast… One school in particular advised me that I’d have to find a private loan that doesn’t require school verification. So I called around and literally had zero luck finding a lender who would do this. Not even my personal bank as they have moved away from providing personal loans for education. With classes beginning in just two months, this news ended up being a big set back. It was starting to set in that I may not be able to do this without my own capital and I certainly didn’t have thirty-thousand dollars laying around to fund each semester. 
Hoping to hear something different, I called around to a few other schools where I discovered that some colleges are fine with accepting private loans that  DO require school verification. Now that I had new options, the second hurdle you may encounter is finding a lender who will trust giving you a personal loan for $20k/$30k/$40k. If you can’t find a lender who’s willing (due to credit etc) then you will need a qualified co-signer. So hopefully you have willing parents, a spouse or siblings who might be willing. If none of these are options for you and you’re ready to kiss you dreams good bye, don’t!
I know many schools (mostly the ones I encountered in DC) warn you against taking classes at community colleges. But CCs offer courses at a more affordable rate for those who truly don’t have the money to take them at a traditional university.  I should note: if I were already in a post bacc or certificate program I could have used a school verified loan initially or (if I’m not mistaken) I could even use a federal loan, but because I’ve used up all of my allotted financial aid in undergrad that still wouldn’t be an option available to me.
So if you’re stuck in a conundrum with limited cash, I say go for the community college anyway. Sure it’s not preferred, but there are still come great professors at these schools. My professor was from Pepperdine when I took my course at a CC and I learned so much. Do what you need to do. You can always explain your decision for taking a class at a community college in your essay to the post bacc admissions committee.
Anyhow, I hope I’ve provided you all with some information to help you navigate or begin thinking about what your options will be for funding your continued education. It can be a process, but there’s always a solution. We live in a great nation with so much opportunity. It may be a long road, but we’ll make it!