Formulate a Financial Plan

Know Your Net Worth

Manage & Minimize Debt

Accumulate Assets

Budget to Live Within Your Means

Understand Investing Basics

Plan for Retirement

Insure People & Property

Deal with Financial Advisors

Review Your Employment Contract

Make Plans for Your Estate

Make Good Decisions


As of early 2020, student loans outstanding reached $1.6 trillion. Student loan debt is now second only to home mortgage debt in the United States. It is larger than car loan debt and all other retail debt types.

As a first priority, make sure you have a handle on all your loans. This means knowing how many loans you have, the interest rate(s) you are required to pay, and identifying the lender and servicer for each. 

If you are still in school, many of your questions can probably be answered by your financial aid office. You should also access your federal loan information at: Private lenders will provide you with their own instructions. If for some reason you lose track of your private loans, they should appear on your credit report. Credit scores and reports are discussed later in this chapter.

Student loans are a hot political item. As such, expect rules to change over time. Confirm all terms and thresholds through your federal loan representative or private lender before finalizing your borrowing and repayment decisions.


Federal vs. Private Loans

Your loans are either government-issued or offered by private-sector banks or other lenders. Each comes with its own considerations, and interest rates may vary widely. Recently issued federal government loans to professional graduate students have interest rates in excess of 6%. Private-sector loans may be higher or lower, depending on your field of study, circumstances, and credit history.

Note there is a difference between a lender and a loan servicer. The lender is the entity that provides the money you borrow. The loan servicer is the entity that manages the loan on behalf of the lender. The servicer processes your payments, answers your questions, and provides you with periodic updates. Approved federal loan servicers are listed at: The table below summarizes some features of federal and private loans.


Table: Some Features of Federal and Private Loans



Federal student loans

Private student loans

Who is the lender?

Federal government

Banks, credit unions, states, universities

Does your credit matter?



Income driven repayment option available?



Are loans forgivable?

Yes, if qualify


Fixed vs. Variable rates


Fixed or variable

Required to make payments while still in school?



Penalties for prepayment?




Federal loans are more flexible and forgiving, and they can be a better choice for many borrowers. Do your homework in advance and research available loans to determine which is best for you and your circumstances. I recommend visiting the site for useful information. 

(According to DoctoredMoney's Disclaimer, it strives to provide conflict-free educational resources for physicians. The Disclaimer mentions that one of the founders has a company that provides a limited amount of financial planning services, described as accounting for 2% of his household income.)