Basics of Student Loans for Clinical Neuropsychology Students
Before taking out loans:
- Create a budget for your next academic year, including all expenses housing, utilities, books, transportation to practicums, etc. A realistic budget will help you avoid the temptation to simply take the maximum amount of loans and determine what you actually need to borrow. Not sure how to create a budget? Visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college/budgeting/creating-your-budget
- Start with your financial aid office. Consult with them specifically about each type of loan you take, the amount, repayment options, etc.
- Always search for available grant and scholarship options. Taking the time to apply for multiple scholarships and grants can allow you to take fewer loans. Places to search for these options are: your institution, professional organizations (APA, AACN, etc.) and charitable organizations. Search the APA’s list of awards here http://www.apa.org/about/awards/
- Be sure to look for awards or grants that may cover expenses outside of simply your basic academic needs (e.g. AACN student scholarships for conference attendance or grants funding dissertation research). These irregular expenses might not go into our yearly budgets, but they add up!
- Contact your school’s financial aid office, they should have basic counseling available and can provide you with a summary of your loans (their type, amount, etc.) You will need this information for any other counseling options.
- The best place to find information about repayment of federal loans is at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/
- Here you can find information about repayment plans, income based repayment, consolidation, deferment or forebearance. This is where you should be looking if you have graduated and are deciding whether or not to defer your loans while on fellowship.
- If you work clinically, this is also the site which will let you know if making payments while at your job will qualify for public service loan forgiveness
- For those in research centers, it is valuable to examine the NIH’s loan repayment programs at https://www.lrp.nih.gov/. There are programs available even if you are not employed by the NIH.
While looking for a job:
- Consider whether or not your potential site qualifies for public service loan forgiveness (see above)
- Evaluate whether you would qualify or be interested in National Health Service Corps loan repayment programs https://nhsc.hrsa.gov/loanrepayment/
Upon completion of your fellowship, it is recommended that you engage immediately with a financial planner, who can offer suggestions for management of your student loan debt, in relation to other debt, retirement accounts, etc. Certified financial planners can be found at at this link. If you are planning to hire a professional to help manage your finances, remember, you should interview a few and be sure to ask specifically about things like their fees and pay structure. This should be someone you can develop rapport with.
Extra credit reading:
At the recent AACN Student Series Workshop, Drs. Amanda Gooding Weingarten and Maia Feigon lead the professional development seminar on Money Matters: Managing Graduate School Loans and Debt. View their slides here.
There are federal websites that provide information about loan forgiveness, specifically:
Note: These resources and suggestions are based on US citizens attending institutions in US programs. Some of these sources may not be relevant for international students.