Lessening loan burden

House: Residents should be allowed to defer loan repayment during training

Resolution also encourages the AOA to push for reinstating the “20/220” rule to determine economic hardship.


Acknowledging that osteopathic medical students can graduate more than $200,000 in debt and that recent federal policies have exacerbated residents’ financial struggles, the House on Saturday directed the AOA to advocate for legislation allowing residents to defer repaying their medical school loans until completing their training.

The AOA House also encouraged the AOA to push for reinstatement of the “20/220 pathway,” the criterion previously used by the federal government to determine residents’ economic hardship. Under that policy, resident physicians qualified for deferment if their monthly loan repayments would amount to at least 20% of income and if their total income minus the loan debt did not exceed 220% of the federal poverty level.

At just 150% of the federal poverty level, the current qualifying limit displaces 67% of those who previously would have been eligible for deferred repayment, noted the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association in its resolution.

Blake A. Wylie, DO, of California, who is one year out of residency, spoke in support of the resolution during a House reference committee meeting. “The 20/220 pathway was taken away while I was two-thirds of the way through my residency. If you are a resident trying to raise a family, it is difficult to pay off student loans,” Dr. Wylie said.

He noted that residents who can’t make their loan payments can request a forbearance from the lender, but this causes more interest to accrue.

Speaking for himself, Robert W. Luchsinger, OMS II, of Oregon took issue with the resolution’s emphasis on deferment. “It would be in the best interest of the AOA to try to reduce the total debt that osteopathic medical students are taking on,” he told the committee. “I would encourage the AOA to provide students with information that can help them manage their money well through medical school and through their residency, so they can live on what they have and pay off the loans that they have.”

One comment

  1. Dan Chappell, DO PGY-3

    Thanks for bringing this important issue up. Reinstating the 20/220 pathway would be a great way help residents with families make it work. Even in forbearance many of us feel the financial pressure to take hospital or military stipends.

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