22 // THE NEW GASTROENTEROLOGIST SUMMER 2017
The AGA recently partnered with CommonBond (stu- dentloans.gastro.org) to help its members save thou- sands by refinancing their student loans. Kevin Tin, MD, who is an AGA member, has a student loan story that can certainly offer guidance and perspective to thers. Kevin earned his BS in health sciences from
Stony Brook University and his MD from American University of Antigua. He completed his residency at Maimonides
Medical Center in Brooklyn, N. Y., where he is currently a gastroenterology fellow.
As with many other aspiring gastroenterologists, Kevin
took out more than $200,000 in federal and private student
loans to pay his way through medical school. He recently
refinanced these loans and picked up some lessons along
the way. Below, he offers some tips for getting free of debt;
taking Kevin’s advice to heart can help you worry less about
your loans and focus instead on serving your patients.
How was your medical school experience?
My medical school experience was memorable for many reasons, particularly because I had an opportunity to study in
Antigua. My time there allowed me to experience a different
culture and, ultimately, a different perspective. I believe this
taught me how to relate to each of my patients’ individual situations and to see things from their eyes. But, the overall cost
of medical school (i.e., tuition, cost of living, medical supplies,
and study resources) caught me off guard. By the time I graduated, I had amassed more than $200,000 in student loans;
this was not something that I felt prepared to deal with.
How would you describe your initial
experience with student loans?
Frustrating and stressful. I struggled to understand the complex application processes, the best type of loan for my personal situation, and to find the lowest rates. In addition, I later
learned that my loans’ interest capitalized while I was still in
school, which made the volume of my debt greater than what I
initially borrowed. It would have been helpful to know that up
front, as I could have made small, monthly payments earlier.
What strategies have you implemented
to pay off your student loans?
I’ve learned a few crucial strategies that any physician could,
What were the benefts of refnancing
and should, take advantage of to save money on their student
loans. First, be sure to spend responsibly while in medical
school. I focused on finding free study
resources and medical supplies as
well as sharing materials with friends
and roommates whenever possible.
As I mentioned earlier, make small
payments when you can; as soon as
I entered residency, I started making
interest payments on my loans. I wanted
to contribute as much as I could, as
early as I could, to get out of debt. Second, after graduation,
endeavor to live frugally. Although I knew my salary would
ultimately increase, I saved as much money as I could and put
money toward paying off my loans. Finally, try to refinance
your student loans; I refinanced mine with CommonBond.
It was an unexpectedly pleasant experience: The website
was extremely easy to navigate and any time I needed help,
a representative was available to answer my questions.
CommonBond also gave me the best rates I could find.
your student loans?
I initially had a 15-year student loan with a 5.75% APR.
When I refinanced with CommonBond, I secured a 7-year,
fixed-rate student loan with a 4.2% APR. I made this choice
because I’ll be saving $30,000-$40,000 over the life of my
loan, and my monthly payment stays stable, regardless of
how the market fluctuates. Refinancing my student loan has
put me on the path to becoming debt free, which will allow
me to focus more on my career.
What is your advice to early-career GIs
who have or need to take out loans?
Do your research and do it early. While in medical school,
understand what options are available to you and learn to
live within your means. In your residency, plan to use a portion of your salary for paying off your student loans, even if
it is only a small amount each month. This will reduce the
volume of interest that will capitalize, so your loan balance
doesn’t grow over time. When you start your full-time job,
be financially responsible and limit your spending so you
can devote additional funds to paying off your student loans.
If you would like to learn more about student loan refinancing with CommonBond, please visit studentloans.gastro.org.
AGA members get a $200 cash bonus for refinancing! n
In your residency, plan to use a portion of your salary for paying off your
student loans, even if it is only a small amount each month.
Dr. Kevin Tin