Taking out optometry school loans can be one of the smartest decisions a college student can make. Optometry can be a financially rewarding career. New optometrists earn well over $50,000 a year on average, while the income for those with several years experience averages over $130,000.
For those persons interested in a career in the health services but who don’t want to become a physician, optometry school can be an attractive option. And given the high income potential, optometry looks even better when you compare the cost of medical school to the cost of optometry school.
The investment in loans to attend optometry school require much less money. The average cost of attending a medical school at a public university is $17,000 for state residents, and $34,000 for out of state residents.
Optometry school costs substantially less-about $11,000 for state residents, and $20,000 for out of state residents. So optometry school loans certainly make sense financially. And there is plenty of loan money available for future optometrists. For starters, there are federal student loans that are open to everyone, not just future eye doctors.
The Perkins Loan program is a low interest loan based on financial need, and it allows grad students to borrow up to $30,000 over the course of their graduate studies, minus any Perkins loans taken out in undergraduate school.
Another excellent source of funds is the federal Stafford loan program. With the Stafford, students may borrow quite a bit more than under the Perkins program. Stafford loans come in two forms-subsidized and unsubsidized. With a subsidized loan, the federal government pays the interest on the loan until graduation, and a six month grace period after graduation.
Optometry students who take out unsubsidized loans will be responsible for paying the interest as soon as the loan is issue, but may elect to defer it until after graduation, in which case the interest is simply added to the principal.
The borrowing limits are $30,000 under the Stafford subsidized loan, and up to nearly $189,125 total (minus any undergraduate Stafford loans), with the rest being unsubsidized. There is a cap of $38,500 per school year.
Another federal source of optometry student loans is the Health Professional Loan. The limits on the HPL vary, and are based partially on financial information supplied by parents. In addition to the federal government, there are other sources of student loans in the field of optometry.
The Educational Resource Institute (TERI) is a non profit group that provides up to $225,000 in loans to optometry school students. And some banks, including Citibank, offer similar loans. Citibank will loan an optometry student up to $220,000 for school itself, and up to $12,000 additional toward a residency after graduation.
Many state governments, too, offer optometry school student loans. Check with your state Department of Education or the optometry school you’d like to attend.