Author Topic: Dealing with massive student loan debt but no degree  (Read 1234 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Dealing with massive student loan debt but no degree
« on: November 01, 2018, 08:08:15 PM »
I'm writing to see if anyone has any ideas/suggestions for dealing with the chaos of my current
financial situation. I was a medical student, completed my second
year, but failed the step 1 exam (licensing exam). My school recommended & I agreed to a 1 year leave of absence. Following this year I did not pass their clearance/practice exam & was dismissed from
school. Just to be clear at this point, I completely realize that this
mess is all my fault, I'm not trying to pass the blame just simply
looking for any help on a way out. After 2 years of school, but
charged for 3 years due to leave, I'm $325 in student loan debt between undergrad and medical school combined & unsure of what to do next. My undergraduate degree was in biology, so I'm not exactly supremely qualified for the job market, especially with 3 years away from the work force. Currently I'm applying for accelerated nursing
programs, along with pharmacy, cardiac perfusion, and even dental
schools. The downside is that most of the options for a higher paying career require taking on more student loan debt. Thank you for any suggestions that you can offer, and for taking the time to read this message!


  • Bristles
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Re: Dealing with massive student loan debt but no degree
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2018, 09:07:28 PM »
Wait. They charged you for a year of school during which they did not provide any education or support (Iím assuming) because you were taking leave? That is...unbelievable. I would appeal that in the biggest possible way. I can understand it if they were providing remedial courses for you or something, but just to keep you on record as as enrolled student? Shut the front door.

I think that itís important to get in a good head space about this debt as fast as you can. Personally Iíd view it as a mortgage or something benign that took the emotional component out of the picture, just because thatís what Iíd need to move forward. I would look into two year programs from community colleges such as physical therapy assistant, X-ray tech, or dental hygienist so that you could start a steady career without taking on more debt. Maybe some of your med school courses would even transfer over to fill requirements.

Iíd also structure your life in the most careful, deliberate way possible. Have a car loan? Get rid of the car and get a beater. Get a studio efficiency apartment. Keep your expenses down to the bare minimum.

My heart goes out to you. This is not going to be easy, but you can overcome this.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Dealing with massive student loan debt but no degree
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2018, 09:47:41 PM »
Can you get into medical/pharmaceutical sales?  If you have the talent for it, that is probably your fastest route to high income.


  • Bristles
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  • Location: United States
Re: Dealing with massive student loan debt but no degree
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2018, 06:19:29 AM »
Out of curiosity, was it a Caribbean school or an MD or DO program in the US? I ask because it's more common for Caribbean schools to admit students who are at high risk of failure, and then string them along to collect more tuition. US schools generally offer a lot more in the way of serious remediation opportunities and I can't tell from your post if that effort was made with you.

If you haven't looked there already, there have been a lot of threads over the years at Student Doctor Network about people in similar situations. A few at Reddit, too. Here are some of the first that Google returned:
« Last Edit: November 02, 2018, 06:24:23 AM by hops »


  • Stubble
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Re: Dealing with massive student loan debt but no degree
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2018, 08:46:43 AM »
You're looking at things wrong if you think most high paying career options 'require' student loan debt.  I'm a computer systems engineer, which while not as high paying as being a specialist dr, is considered high paying.  I worked at the University's help desk for 5 years, and as a systems admin for 1, while going to school there for 6.  They paid 100% of my tuition and full time job wages of course.

There are plenty of options that don't involve debt.


  • Stubble
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Re: Dealing with massive student loan debt but no degree
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2018, 10:56:20 AM »
Just wanted to pop in with some words of encouragement from one fellow undergrad biology degree holder to another ;)

I studied bio in undergrad with the intention of going to veterinary school. Changed my mind senior year (do not regret that!) and figured I'd be able to find a job in my field with just an undergrad degree. LOL. They are few and far between, and from what I found, mostly lab-work, etc.

Do not limit yourself to that field of study in pursuing career opportunities. I currently work in risk management in the financial sector... never saw THAT coming. Upsell the fact that you graduated in a difficult degree with (I'm assuming, based on the fact that you got into med school) a high GPA. Upsell your two years in med school and frame your lack of completion in more of a change-of-heart way rather than an "I failed out" kind of way. You've clearly got brains, so once you're in the door somewhere, work HARD and you'll find that there are infinite ways to find yourself in a high-paying career besides having a professional degree or post-grad edu.

For reference: I'll clear 6-figures next year (in a LCOL area) and it sounds like we are close to the same age. Your options aren't as bleak as they seem... you just need to be willing to look past a career in the sciences.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Dealing with massive student loan debt but no degree
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2018, 12:37:54 PM »
PhD in biology? Should be completely funded and doesnít limit you to research/teaching.

Clinical lab science?