Student Loans for Doctors in Canada

Medical students have access to a selection of borrowing solutions offered by big and local banks, credit unions, the government, and other sources. As a medical student you don’t have control over school costs such as tuition and board, textbooks, and books, but what you can do is shop around to find low-cost financing. Good debt management skills are also important given that some 13 percent of students incur over $160,000 in debt, and 30 percent expect to graduate with a debt of more than $100,000.

Government-Sponsored Loans

Doctors and medical students are offered government-sponsored loans and in some cases, they are also eligible for loan forgiveness. The following practitioners qualify: nurses, nurse practitioners, residents in family medicine, and family doctors who reside and practice in remote and under-served regions and communities. The list of professionals that qualify also includes licensed practical nurses, registered practical and psychiatric nurses, and registered nurses. There are additional criteria to meet, one being that your account is in good standing. Loan forgiveness is offered to doctors, nurse practitioners, and other professionals who have worked in an under-served or remote area for a minimum of one year. When it comes to the amount you can get in the form of loan forgiveness, nurse practitioners and nurses are entitled to get as much as $20,000 over a period of 5 years while residents of family medicine and family doctors can get up to $40,000. Those who take a leave for longer than a certain period must show proof in the form of benefits they receive as parents of critically ill children, compassionate care benefits, sickness benefits, or parental or maternity benefits.

Loans by Private Financial Providers

Your credit union or local bank is your first choice if you fail to meet the criteria for a government-backed loan. One option is to ask your bank whether it offers student lines of credit to pay for books, textbooks, tuition, and other school expenses. The amount you are offered often depends on whether you are a graduate or undergraduate student (it is usually higher for students enrolled in graduate programs). The main benefits for borrowers are that funds are easy to access, there are no annual fees, and the interest rate can be significantly lower. The fact that banks offer flexible limits is an additional benefit. If you prefer to apply for a loan, banks and unions offer personal loans that you can take advantage of. Visit the student service center at your financial institution, i.e. the CIBC National Student Centre, RBC Loan Service Centre, etc. TD Canada Trust, the Laurentian Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, Desjardins Group, and other banks also have student loan service centers to help you make a decision on the right type of borrowing solution.

There are some differences between private and government-backed student loans to look into. If you qualify for government assistance, you are not required to pay interest while in college or until you’ve reached a certain limit. If you take a loan offered by a union or bank, interest builds up. Some financial institutions offer repayment assistance but many students find it difficult to qualify. Finally, the rate can be higher compared to government-backed loans, and what you can do is ask your bank to offer a slightly lower rate. If you qualify for an unsecured loan, inquire whether you can make penalty-free lump sum payments. The rate goes up and down with rate fluctuations, and you’ll pay more when it starts to rise.

Debt Management

According to a recent National Physician Survey, only 18 percent of medical students think that they will graduate debt-free. This means that the majority of students are forced to borrow and manage debt. And the most important thing is to make timely payments to avoid penalties and fees. Debt management, debt consolidation, and other solutions also help reduce the outstanding balance and monthly payment.


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