The cost of medical education in the United States has become so high that even Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s son has to get a student loan to finance his studies. His son, who is in Weill Cornell Medical College in New York may rack up as much as $400,000 by the time he completes his degree.
The United States will have a shortage of about 130,000 physicians by 2025 as the elderly population rises. But the rising debt burden is scaring off the minority and low income students who are fearful of taking big loans. According to Bloomberg, the median student loan for a 2012 medical graduate was $170,000, compared to just $13,469 in 1978.
Ben Bernanke testified last year before Congress that his son is expected to graduate from medical school with about $400,000 in debt. For the 2013 medical school class of graduates, the median four year cost was $278,455 in private schools and $207, 868 in public schools, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Many researchers and academics believe that attending medical school is still worth the costs.
Most medical scholars fund their education with loans. The interest rates for individuals range from 6.8 percent to 7.9 percent, much higher than the 10-year Treasury note. Student loan interest rates are set by the Congress. Student loans are usually higher because they are given to people with no credit history, and don’t require collateral.
Another big problem for students is that interests continue to accrue on a part of the balance when students undergo a multi-year residency period. This results in an even higher balance when the training is over.
In a semi-annual testimony, Ben Bernanke expressed worries about rising student loan debt. He said regulators should keep a “careful oversight” on student loans. Mr. Bernanke, who keeps a low profile, said that the old man does his own grocery shopping.
The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2012 that Mr. Bernanke has $672,000 in mortgage debts on his three bedroom house near Capitol Hill. To everyone’s surprise, Bernanke has refinanced that debt twice. But he has a high income generating capacity, especially looking at the book royalties and potential speaking fees he can command after leaving the Fed in 2014.