I had a slight panic attack when I thought that I would not have enough loans to cover all my expenses for the first year.
My school sent a letter about the maximum amount of loans that I was able to accept, which I didn’t think was enough money. I called the school, and they recommended that I try to find private loans through a bank or something, which did not make me feel any better. I then contacted my roommates, who were able to explain more about the situation.
1. You might not take out loans for the entire year.
The loans were for fall through spring semesters, so for 9 months. An additional loan can be taken out for the summer semester. My school lists the total tuition for each year, rather than the tuition per unit taken or per semester, so I still have no idea how much I will have to pay for the first and second semester. School begins in 6 days, so I’ll just have to continue being patient. I was reassured by several students that I should have enough money to cover all my expenses, so I’m not worried.
2. You might not receive your loans before classes begin.
Unfortunately, we enroll in classes during orientation. Then our loans are submitted, the loans are sent to the school to pay for tuition, and then the loans are sent to you, about 2-3 weeks after classes start.
That means that your rent, security deposit, car, insurance, personal belongings, furniture, books, and food will be paid out of pocket for the first few weeks. Hopefully your school is different, but make sure that you contact the school and find out when you will receive your money.
3. You need to fill out FAFSA to receive student loans.
FAFSA is a free application that you’ve probably filled out before if you’ve been to college. You can enter in your financial information and you’ll automatically be considered an independent student because you are attending graduate school, whether or not your parents still consider you a dependent of theirs. Fill this out by the spring deadline and you’re good to go! My school did not remind me of this, so make sure to remember.
4. Don’t be afraid of loans.
You’ll always owe somebody money. Whether it’s an auto loan, a house loan, or a student loan, it’s a part of life. Seeing the $33,000 in loans written down on paper was an awful feeling. I didn’t make that much money in an entire year, and now I’m responsible for spending that much money in 9 months. It’s hard to accept, but education is an investment.
You should definitely be cautious on how much money you are willing to spend to get this degree. Create a budget, figure out your expected debt once you graduate, and research the average salary of a physical therapist in the location and setting you’d like to work. Private schools, with a tuition around $100,000 or more, are incredibly expensive. Taking an extra year to strengthen your application so you can attend a cheaper school may be a wiser choice.