Although its been around since 2012, Oregon Health & Science University’s student debt counseling and financial management program is getting a lot of attention. As one of only two medical schools in the U.S. to offer such a service, OHSU’s program is designed to be an educational and counseling resource for the students of OHSU to help students better understand the fiscal challenges while pursuing their medical degree.
The program’s manager, Justin Kribs, is charged with a number of tasks, including but not limited to meeting with students in a group setting or on a one-on-one basis to cover various issues like loan repayment options, forbearance strategies, setting up budgets, credit card counseling, and more. For MDs in particular, Mr. Kribs job becomes quite important as students reach the point when they need to start paying down their medical school debt, while at the same time trying to buy a home, start a family, and/or save for retirement. “In my opinion, it’s a whole population that’s been ignored from a financial planning perspective,” Mr. Kribs noted.
The school’s website notes that almost every student who attends OHSU does so with the help of financial assistance of some kind and generally students fund their degree by borrowing from the Federal Government or from a private financial institution such as a bank. According to an article published on Oregon-live.com, last year, the average MD-degree holder left OHSU with $198,700 of debt, up from $173,000 in 2009-10. Furthermore, the average dental student left with $230,245, up from $176,200 in 2009-10.
“He’s the first person we’ve hired. He’s not going to be the last person, the way things are going,” noted David Robinson, OHSU executive vice provost. “We already have 2,800 students here. Ideally we’d like to touch every one of those students in some personal manner. Obviously one person can’t do that.”