Physician Assistant Loan Repayment Options: How to Pay PA School Debt

Since the Physician Assistant profession is one of the fastest growing healthcare professions, you may want to consider becoming a PA. The only problem is the cost of Physician Assistant School can be very high. Fortunately there are many options to help pay PA School Costs. (from

The cost of a physician assistant (PA) degree can be a huge burden to take on, and many PAs feel the need to take out student loans to help cover the cost of college. The average amount of debt after PA school is $143,000, and although PAs are among the highest paid healthcare professionals, it can take a long time to pay off student loans and make a dent in your debt when your salary is low to begin with.

Many medical assistants (MAs) find themselves in loan repayment purgatory, which can end up costing them thousands of dollars. Most APs find themselves in this situation because the combination of a six-figure salary and $150,000 to $200,000 in debt makes choosing a repayment strategy very confusing.

A standard 10-year repayment plan may seem too high. But while income-based repayment schemes, such as PAYE and REPAYE, offer lower monthly payments, they also take longer to repay and tend to be more expensive.

This is why some PAs choose the intermediate path. Choose a rate based on income and pay off the loans when you can. At first glance, this seems like a reasonable plan.

But this may be the most expensive option of all. Why? In fact, you may have to pay the full amount before any money is awarded. And it could end up costing you thousands more in installments. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best loan repayment options for a medical assistant.

Aggressive lending versus maximum consumption

In general, two options are financially most advantageous for repaying a loan for medical assistant training.

Aggressive withdrawal

Get the lowest interest rate possible by refinancing and putting all the extra money into paying off your loans in 10 years or less. Keep in mind that refinancing a student loan involves taking out a new private loan, which means that if you have federal loans, you are no longer eligible for federal benefits. A private lender will usually also want to make sure that you have a good credit history and a reasonable debt-to-income ratio.

maximum pardon

Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan (IDR) that offers you the lowest rates. Do what you can to lower your AGI and get the best possible credit relief.

Please note that only direct credits from IDR plans can be paid. However, FFEL and Perking loans may qualify if combined into one consolidated direct loan. Parent PLUS loans are also not eligible for income-based repayment plans, but may be eligible for income-based repayment (IDR) if consolidated.

To select

As mentioned, those who choose the opaque middle ground end up paying more than they need to.  This means more of your hard-earned money goes to a financial institution instead of staying in your wallet. In many cases, tens of thousands of dollars are at stake.

But how do you choose between an aggressive ROI approach and forgiving optimization? We found that people with a student loan-to-income ratio of 1.5 would benefit most from an aggressive approach. Those with a ratio of 2.0x or higher benefit most from a passive approach.

But here’s the problem for the AP. Many of them fall in the middle of this range. And that makes it even more difficult to choose between reimbursement options for a physician assistant.

Click here to ask me a question about credits for medical assistants.

What about the Government Employees Credit Benefit (GECB)?

In addition to the magical relationship between debt and income, career choice can add another layer of complexity. There are several student loan forgiveness and repayment programs for which only certain employees are eligible.

The Public Service Loan Benefit Facility (PSLF), which is available to APs working in public or nonprofit clinics, is probably the best known. It offers full forgiveness of the borrower’s loan balance in just 10 years (120 eligible payments).

But you must assess whether the forgiveness you earn is worth more than the income you can give up if you give up private work. We will provide more detailed guidance later on how the HA should think about this decision.

Other options for repayment of loans for health care assistants

But the PSLF isn’t the only program designed to help some APs pay back their student loans. Here are some other examples:

  • National Health Service Corps (NHSC) loan repayment program: Participants can receive up to $50,000 in student loan repayment if they commit to working in an eligible Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) for two years. In addition to PAs, qualified health professionals include general practitioners, dentists, nurses, midwives, professional social workers, etc.
  • Military loan repayment programs : The College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) offers Army and Navy (active duty and National Guard) employees up to $65,000 in student loan repayment assistance. The Health Professions Loan Repayment Program can provide up to $40,000 to Navy and Air Force personnel.
  • Indian Health Service (IHS) loan repayment program: This program can provide up to $40,000 in student loans to qualified health professionals who commit to working for at least two years in health facilities serving American Indian or Alaska Native communities. Note that the IHS also offers a scholarship program for undergraduate students.
  • State Loan Repayment Programs (SLRP): Many states provide loan repayment assistance through their own SLRPs. Refer to this Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) fact sheet to find out what programs are available in your state.

These are just a few of the many loan repayment programs you may qualify for as an AP. For more information, see our complete guide to low interest loans for medical assistants.

Repayment options for student loans in PA = too much

To summarize: Most PAs have to make a choice between:

  1. Refinancing – Conditions: 10 years or less
  2. Enrolled in an income-based repayment plan (PAYE, REPAYE, IBR) – duration: 20 or 25 years
  3. PSLF application – Deadlines: minimum 10 years
  4. Participate in an employer-sponsored repayment plan in conjunction with one of the three options above.

What is the best way for medical assistants to repay their student loans?

Christine is 26 and graduated from PA a year ago with $170,000 in student loans at 6.5%. His current salary is $100,000.

Let’s compare the options between PAYE (passive approach) and low interest refinancing (aggressive approach):

If you look only at the total amount of loan payments, Christine will spend about the same amount on payroll and refinancing. The difference is that under the PAYE system this amount is spread over 20 years, not 10.

This means that the refinancing payments will be much higher than the PAYE payments. Your refinance payment could be $1,803/month for 10 years, compared to an initial payment of $685 with the PAYE plan. That’s a difference of $1,200 a month.

But wait! PAYE means that the balance of the cancelled loan of $170,000 will be taxed as income, so she would have to pay about $68,000 in tax over 20 years (assuming a 40% tax rate). As a result, total PAYE costs were $289,000 compared to $221,000 at the time of refinancing, an increase of $68,000.

Should she then opt for a lower interest rate and repay the loans over 20 years? Or would she be better off choosing a less expensive amount with higher monthly payments and be rid of her debt in half the time?

How can Christine make the best decision about repaying her loan?

Here are some questions we would ask Christine during her consultation to help her determine the best strategy for repaying her loans:

Do you want to keep paying off your student loan until you’re 40, when your monthly payment is lower?


Do you want to pay off your student loan as quickly as possible? Yes? So are you willing to leave your lifestyle unchanged for a while and put all your energy into getting rid of your debt in less than 10 years?

This is a personal decision for which she may need professional help. One of our qualified counselors can help Kristin figure this out.

Is there an opportunity to work at a non-profit hospital? Is the potentially lower salary worth it?

PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness) is a great debt relief option for medical assistants if they can work full time for a 501c3 (non-profit) organization or government employer.

How good is it? Very good.

That’s right, the total cost of their education has been reduced by 45% thanks to the PSLF! However, there may be a problem. Maybe a non-profit hospital would pay her less. How much more would she have to earn in a private job to make it worthwhile?

Over the same period, it will save nearly $130,000 by paying off PSLF loans compared to refinancing.  That’s $13,000 after taxes per year. This means that Christine’s pre-tax salary would have to be about $20,000 higher if she worked in the private sector to waive the LPS benefit.

There are many nuances to this topic, which we will also explore in the course of the conversation.

How much does it cost to go to purgatory?

What if Christine thinks $1,800 a month is too much, but she can afford about $1,400 a month? Let’s assume she can get a 15-year refinancing loan at 5.5%.

In this case, Christine would spend an additional $35,000 to pay off the loan in 15 years instead of 10. That’s a pretty high number, and it will take another 5 years to get out of debt. She would have been better off finding an extra $400 in her monthly budget, which she could have used to pay off the loan.

If she can only pay $1,200 a month, a 20-year loan at 6% would cost her $300,000 in payments. That’s about $80,000 more than the 10-year option.  It will also be $11,000 more expensive than the PAYE loan forgiveness, including the estimated tax bill.

Talking to an expert = clear path to student loan repayment + significant savings for the AP

It can be foolish to figure out all the reimbursement options for a medical assistant. You have so many options. If, like many PAs we’ve worked with, you’re struggling to find the best way to repay your student loan, we’d like to help. Click on the button below to book your consultation.

Click here to register for the student loan interview!

Refinance your student loans and receive a bonus in 2021.

BONUS of $1,000 for 100,000 or more. 200 for 50,000 to 99,999¹.

variable 1.99% – 5.64% APR1
fixed 2.98% – 5.79% APR1

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BONUS of $1,250 for 250k+, tiered bonus of 300 to 500 for 50k-250k.3

1,275 BONUS4 For $150,000 or more. Multi-level bonus from 300 to 575 for 50k to 149k.4

variable 2.39% – 6.01% APR4
fixed 2.79% – 5.99% APR4

1,000 BONUS5 for $100,000 or more. 200 for $50,000 to $99,9995.

variable 2.25% – 6.64% APR5
fixed 2.99% – 6.64% APR5

1,250 BONUS6 for 100k+ or $350 for 5k to 100k.6

1,250 BONUS7 For $150,000 or more. Multi-level bonus from 100 to 400 for 25k to 149k.7

variable 1.91% – 7.69% APR7
fixed 2.95% – 8.49% APR7

Not sure what to do with your student loan?

Take our 11-question quiz to get personalized advice on PSLF, IDR, or refinancing (including information on which lender we think can offer the best interest rate).

Do our questionnaire.

1Earnest: $1,000 for $100,000 or more, $200 for $50,000 to $99,999.99. For Earnest, if you refinance $100,000 or more through this site, $500 of the $1,000 cash bonus will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. In the above price range, an additional discount of 0.25% is included for automatic payment Information on income.

2General promissory note If you refinance over $100,000 through this website, $500 of the above cash bonuses will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. General Bond Disclosure.

3Laurierweg: If you refinance over $250,000 through our link and Student Loan Planner receives the loan, a $500 cash bonus will be paid directly to Student Loan Planner. If you are a member of a professional association, Laurel Road can offer you the choice of a reduced interest rate or the $300, $500 or $750 cash bonus mentioned above. The Laurel Road proposals cannot be combined. The above price range includes an additional 0.25% discount for automatic payment. Laurel Road Revealed.

4Elfie: If you refinance over $150,000 through this website, $500 of the above cash incentives will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Uncover Alfie.

5Sofi: If you refinance $100,000 or more through this website, $500 of the $1,000 cash bonus will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. The above price range includes an additional 0.25% discount for automatic payment. Disclosure of information about Sofi.

6Valid: If you refinance over $100,000 through this website, $500 of the above cash bonuses will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Reliable dissemination of information.

7LendKey : If you refinance over $150,000 through this website, $500 of the above cash incentives will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. The above price range includes an additional 0.25% discount for automatic payment.

This source has been very much helpful in doing our research. Read more about physician assistant loan forgiveness covid and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I pay off my PA school debt?

If you recently graduated from a physician assistant program, you may be looking for ways to pay off your PA school debt. The average debt for a graduate is between $138,000 and $150,000, according to the . While that might seem overwhelming, there are some steps you can take to reduce your overall loan burden. Our student loans are the single largest debt most of us will ever have to pay off. While it may seem overwhelming to try to pay off a debt of this size, you can get help. There are many options out there, from loan forgiveness programs to changing repayment plans. The only thing you need to do is figure out which ones will work well for you, and take action.

How do I pay back my physician assistant loan?

Loan repayment is one of the most common questions asked by students who graduate from physician assistant programs. PAs have a lot of debt to pay back, since their debt average far surpasses the national average. The average student debt for graduates of physician assistant programs is $186,100. Since the physician assistant profession is not one that most people can jump into right after college, it is likely that you will have to get a job or internship and save up before you can even begin to think about paying back your PA loan.

Physician assistant loan repayment jobs are growing at a fever pitch. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of physician assistant loan repayment jobs is expected to increase by more than 30% from 2010 to 2020. Let’s explore why you might want to learn more about this career and how you can get started.

How long does Physician Assistant take to pay off student loans?

The Physician Assistant Loan Repayment Program (or the “PA Loan Repayment Program” for short) is a program that aims to encourage you to work as a physician assistant (PA) in an area that is designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). It does this by offering you up to $50,000 in loan repayment over a three-year period. In the US, the median salary for a Physician Assistant is $101,000. The reason behind this high income is the high demand for Physician Assistants.

This high demand is caused by the high population of the aging population in the US. The aging population is accelerating the growth of the need for healthcare services. This makes Physician Assistants one of the most important health care professions in the country today. However, the high income you make as a Physician Assistant is not the only benefit you get from the profession. As a Physician Assistant, you get to work on the cutting edge of medicine and make a difference in the lives of your patients.


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