Hello. I am a 25-year-old medical school student. I am finishing up my second year and have already accrued over 85K in loans which will continue to increase as I pay tuition for my third and fourth years. My family consists of only me mother and me. She lives on social security and has many health issues. She has been facing financial difficulties as well due to macular degeneration and iron deficiency anemia. I cannot ask for help paying my tuition because there is nothing she could do. In undergrad, I was able to apply for scholarships and grants based on my financial need. I also studied endlessly to be at the top of my year and was rewarded several academic scholarships. Because of this hard work, I was able to complete undergrad without taking out student loans.
However, most of these opportunities were no longer available once I earned my bachelor’s degree. I was accepted into my medical school in New York City and moved myself a thousand miles away from home into university housing for the first year. Then starting second year, I moved into a tiny apartment in the city that I share with four other people. I have funded every penny of this through federal loans.
We have been required to purchase and provide our own textbooks and medical equipment. I have applied to as many scholarships as I am able, but I am competing with my entire school for one or two reward spots. With the pandemic, my school switched to virtual classes and I left school housing to take care of my mother. The school did not offer any of us our money back for the months we did not live in their housing. We were required to pay for our yearlong contract upfront, we were unable to convince them to refund us any of it. Additionally, the school continued charging us the full amount for tuition and services such as on campus activities that we were not even on campus to use. When the students asked about that money, we were told it was redistributed for coronavirus precautions and Zoom licenses. We tried to get a breakdown, but the school refused. They told us we would have to independently pay for an audit if we wanted to know that information.
I have been trying to be as frugal as possible and have maxed out the amount of money I can get per semester. Still, I have found myself often skipping breakfast to save money or buying boxes of noodles and having that for all my dinners. It’s already stressful to be in classes and working shifts at the hospital and wondering how I am going to feed myself this week is another added burden.
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read this. I truly appreciate your empathy. Stay safe.
Peace and love,