The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Medical Board Exam Loan

The medical board exam is not covered by most traditional medical student loans. As such, it may be necessary to use a board exam loan or a residency loan to cover the cost of taking the board. There are a number of advantages to these loans, the most significant being the ability to easily take your boards and move into residency. However, the loans will add to your existing debt load.

Advantages of Medical Board Exam Loans

  • Pay for study materials - It costs money to study for boards. You may need additional resources, such as books and study guides, which are never cheap. Many students will also opt to take a preparation course. Few students will be working while they study for the board exam, meaning you may rely heavily on loans while studying to pay day-to-day expenses.
  • Pay the exam fee - The medical board exam cost $1,200 in 2009. This is not a small sum, and board exam loans may be the only option for a student who is not working to completely cover the cost to take the test. The fee must be paid in full in order to sit for the exam.
  • Pay to travel to the exam - The medical board exam is only administered in 5 regional centers in the United States. Students have to travel to these centers to take the test, and the cost to travel can be very high. Medical board exam loans can cover the cost of getting to the destination, booking a hotel and even dining while you travel.
  • Pay for residency interviews or relocation - Some residency loans that cover the cost of the board exam will also cover the cost to interview for and relocate to a residency. It can be advantageous to look for these features in a loan when you are considering how to pay for the board exam.

Disadvantages of Medical Board Exam Loans

  • Add to existing debt - Medical doctors have among the highest cost of education in any profession in the United States. Adding together undergraduate education, medical school, board exam loans and any residency loan, a doctor can be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt by the time he or she gets a first paycheck.
  • Extended repayment plans - To pay these loans off, many doctors will have to make low monthly payments in the beginning. Residents have low starting salaries, and you may only be able to pay a small portion of your principal sum each year. While lenders want you to believe the salary of a doctor will easily pay off these loans, the truth is that many doctors are in debt for decades after graduating.
  • Limited in scope - Medical board exam loans are typically smaller than similar residency loans. As such, they do not often help cover the cost of living once you have completed your medical board exam and transitioned into residency. Low limit loans are definitely cheaper. However, if you truly need the money to live, it can be worth the expense to move forward with a larger loan.


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