Lessons Learned From a New Grad About Student Loans
Written by Philip Van Dyke, PT, DPT, CSCS
Student loans. Did you cringe a little at the sight of those two words? They are a topic that is near and dear to the hearts of most physical therapy students and physical therapists. As a recent graduate, tackling student loans certainly seemed a daunting task to me. Since I know that I am not alone in feeling a bit overwhelmed when trying to figure out how to go about paying student loans, I wanted to share my experience as an encouragement to others. However, let me be clear that I am not qualified nor am I attempting to provide any financial advice. On the contrary, I want my experience to be an inspiration for others to take the first steps towards seeking the professional advice from which so many of us could so greatly benefit.
If you’re like me, by the time you finish school, you’ve heard a million different strategies from different experts and self-proclaimed “experts.” Some say pay those loans down as quickly as possible, potentially at the expense of other savings and some other unnecessary luxuries. Others say stretch out the payment period so that you have extra money to save for things like retirement. Then there’s the Public Service Loan Forgiveness option. So, which strategy is the best? Well, the best strategy would totally depend on your personal situation and personal goals and priorities. That’s where FitBUX became an extremely helpful resource for me.
When I was recently sifting through all of this information, I decided to check out FitBUX after having heard a little through Facebook about the tools and resources that they offer that cater to physical therapists. I created an account, inputted my information to receive a FitBUX score (their own proprietary measure of an individual’s human capital and financial situation), and scheduled a phone consultation. During that call, I was presented with different options based on my personal loan details that would meet my goal of trying to strike a balance between getting my loans paid off within a reasonable time frame and not completely sacrificing all luxuries. After settling on a strategy that met my needs and goals, they followed up by sending a breakdown of how payments would look over the course of the loan term compared to my other options. Needless to say, the individualized help I received from FitBUX was invaluable and helped me feel more confident in my ability to pay my student loans in a way that aligned with my goals.
So, there are a few general lessons that I hope can be learned through my experience.
- You do not have to, and probably should not, attempt to figure out a plan for your student loans on your own. Just as we would expect someone with a musculoskeletal issue to seek physical therapy rather than finding out how to treat themselves online, we should be approaching student loans and finances the same way. Seek out professional advice that can be catered to your personal situation. There are a lot of great options out there. For me, I have worked with a personal financial advisor and looked to FitBUX for individualized student loan advice.
- If you are still in school and taking student loans, it’s never too early to think about how those student loans will affect you after school and to formulate your own personal financial priorities. In the same way that physical therapists base their plans of care on patients’ functional goals, you will have a better idea of how you want a professional financial advisor to help you by knowing your own goals. FitBUX can help you develop your student loan strategies if you are still a student. It’s never too early to start planning.
- Don’t let student loans discourage you, especially when you’re a new graduate and looking at the seemingly daunting task of getting started on paying your loans. Take it one step at a time. To tie it back to physical therapy again, we often have to provide moral support to our patients in addition to the treatment we provide. Consulting with a trained professional, like I did with FitBUX, can serve a similar purpose and be that first step you need to take.
I know that student loans are a growing problem in the profession of physical therapy and in the United States as a whole. If some form of relief becomes available, that’s great. However, instead of sitting back and waiting for that to happen, take ownership of the money you borrowed and seek out help. For me, that help came from FitBUX, and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a place to start. I now have a solid plan in place for beginning to pay my loans, and I know that I can go to them if my situation ever changes. If you have already taken the step of seeking professional advice to formulate an individualized plan, then keep up the good work! If you have not, then let today be the day that you take that step!