- The student loan repayment pause is currently set to expire at the end of August.
- Joshua McGough, a medical resident with $366,000 of debt, said he’s prepared to start repaying his loans.
- McGough said despite the loans he still had to work part-time as a medical student to make ends meet.
After graduating from medical school in May, Joshua McGough still has over $360,000 in student loan debt despite doing the “unheard of” to survive financially and working part-time throughout his post-graduate education.
McGough, 27, told Insider that the student loan payment and interest pause have been helpful in allowing his family to save up some extra money, but he’s working toward restarting payments if the extension expires in August. Officials in the Biden administration have hinted that the pause could be extended.
The conversation around student loan payments and potential forgiveness, McGough said, has neglected to mention that for many in the medical field or at the graduate level, loans don’t just pay for tuition but for everyday living expenses, meaning they can rack up pretty quickly.
“The loans for medical students tend to be for usually single (people) usually living with roommates and not for me because I’m married and I have a 10-month-old. So even the loans that the government tends to allot do not cover all the expenses required of being a graduate student and a medical student,” McGough said.
He added: “Like I had to work part-time during medical school, which is almost unheard of. I had so many needs for money other than tuition, and that’s just kind of where the system falls short for students like me.”
McGough said he’s fortunate to have two part-time remote positions where he can make his own hours, but he knows of medical students who graduate and have to take on jobs as delivery drivers, which he says is difficult with rising gas prices.
He runs social media platforms for the dermatology department and helps a company make webinars for students that are getting into medical school.
“Fortunately I’ve been able to have positions that lean into like my medical knowledge, instead of like when I was in graduate school. Like I walked dogs. I was a nanny for a while. Just kind of anything to make a buck and just pay for rent and stuff,” he said.
McGough told Insider that while he thinks he’ll be alright financially in the long run — and current loan forgiveness proposals won’t make a dent in his loans — other graduates need more support.
“The $10,000 for everyone would not really help me all that much when I’m looking at $360,000. However, there are folks out there that have serious amounts of debt that will not have the income potential that I will have as a physician,” he said.
McGough said he supports catering loan forgiveness to people with the highest debt to income ratios and those who are most in need. Several governors and legislators, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, have proposed more small-scale efforts that would provide more support to those who had more debt compared to income.
McGough has set a plan where he anticipates being able to pay off his loans in a decade but says there’s no certainty, especially as the economy changes. The costs of having a child, and the current economic climate have led his family to reconsider when they can another child.
McGough says at the end of the day, there needs to be better financial literacy so teens signing onto loans to go to school know and understand the economic burden that ensues.
“I don’t think there’s nearly enough financial education,” he said, adding that as the only member of his family to go on to become a doctor, he wasn’t aware at 17 years old of the long-term financial impact of student loans.
For now, McGough is focused on restarting his payments, and while he feels confident that his profession of choice will help him pay off those loans, he said there should be a common ground for reaching a solution that would help other borrowers.
“I think if we start with just kind of empathizing that a lot of us made these decisions when we were children and now that we’re all kind of paying the price for it, is a common ground that we can all agree on,” he said.