Accepted into a pharmacy program - but already 70k in debt. Is it a bad idea to go for it?

  • onlyawhisper

    Posts: 61

    Jun 17, 2016 9:37 PM GMT
    So, I recently graduated with my Bachelor's in Business Management. I've decided that I would really like to give pharmacy another shot. It's what I enjoy doing and I wasn't prepared my first time around.

    My issue is that I have 70k in existing student loans. I've been accepted into a good program, but I have one more year of pre-reqs to complete before going into the professional phase. As long as I meet the minimum requirements, there is a seat reserved for me.

    I'm getting a $5,000 yearly scholarship, but the first year tuition alone is $31k ($26k after scholarship). The next 4 years are $36k ($31k after scholarship). So the pharmacy program in total would cost me $150k. That, combined with my existing $70k would put my student loan debt at $220k.

    I pretty much have a job secured, as a friend of mine is a pharmacist and owns his own independent pharmacy. Plus, I have connections from my former job as a tech at CVS. Most pharmacists in NY make over $100k a year starting out, and that's on the low end without overtime.

    My question is, would it be smart of me to do this, financially?

  • interesting

    Posts: 584

    Jun 17, 2016 11:47 PM GMT
    Wow, why is the pharmacy up there cost so much?? I'm entering my first year too in a couple of months down here, but luckily, in Florida we have this program call Bright Futures Scholarship, where if you get a certain GPA in high school, the state lottery program pays 100% of your undergraduate tuition, I got that taken care of, all I had to worry about was boarding and books and general life, which I had a job to counter and a bunch of other scholarships so I left college with no loans.

    And in a few years, I've saved up for what is now going to be Professional School since it's Pharmacy. But I don't see why you shouldn't go for it, the federal interest for student loans is I think only 5% right now. But again, getting back to Pharmacy School, what the hell, it costs 30K for tuition per year? Is that projected spending that includes books, boarding, and etc...Or is that the actual tuition paid to school? Down here, it's about 11K per semester, so 22K in a year actual money paid to the college of pharmacy. And I would be done with the program by the 4th year, is it 5 at your school? Luckily, I am also leeching off my parents while being in school, woohoo, free rent and food!

    But either way, financially, it's an initial investment that would pay off, because you would be making a 6 figures salary per year, and calculating taxes and daily life expenses, it would take a few years to pay it off. Some pharmacists I know take over 10 years paying it off because they said the interest rate was locked in at 3% when they borrowed so they have no reason to rush on it.
  • onlyawhisper

    Posts: 61

    Jun 18, 2016 12:10 PM GMT
    interesting saidWow, why is the pharmacy up there cost so much?? I'm entering my first year too in a couple of months down here, but luckily, in Florida we have this program call Bright Futures Scholarship, where if you get a certain GPA in high school, the state lottery program pays 100% of your undergraduate tuition, I got that taken care of, all I had to worry about was boarding and books and general life, which I had a job to counter and a bunch of other scholarships so I left college with no loans.

    And in a few years, I've saved up for what is now going to be Professional School since it's Pharmacy. But I don't see why you shouldn't go for it, the federal interest for student loans is I think only 5% right now. But again, getting back to Pharmacy School, what the hell, it costs 30K for tuition per year? Is that projected spending that includes books, boarding, and etc...Or is that the actual tuition paid to school? Down here, it's about 11K per semester, so 22K in a year actual money paid to the college of pharmacy. And I would be done with the program by the 4th year, is it 5 at your school? Luckily, I am also leeching off my parents while being in school, woohoo, free rent and food!

    But either way, financially, it's an initial investment that would pay off, because you would be making a 6 figures salary per year, and calculating taxes and daily life expenses, it would take a few years to pay it off. Some pharmacists I know take over 10 years paying it off because they said the interest rate was locked in at 3% when they borrowed so they have no reason to rush on it.


    Yeah, I hate New York lol. This is a private university, not a state/public school. There is a great public school here on Long Island that is supposedly opening a program next year or the year after. I could wait for that, to save some money. But I'm not getting any younger lol.
  • JackNNJ

    Posts: 1051

    Jun 18, 2016 12:52 PM GMT
    If the career prospects are good, then no big whoop.
  • onlyawhisper

    Posts: 61

    Jun 19, 2016 3:43 PM GMT
    I guess I'm just wondering if it would be worth it to wait for the program near home to open, since it's a state school and would be a lot cheaper. It might not be for another year or so, and I'm already turning 26. And it would take me 5 more years to finish the program. icon_neutral.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 19, 2016 3:58 PM GMT
    Well, you know the field - What with all the big chains automating and wiping out small independant pharmacies, I would geusss that slaries are not as high as they would otherwise be.

    Consider investigating learning german, and studying in Germany, where there is free tuition? (Whether this apples in professioanal schools, I don't know)
  • badbug

    Posts: 800

    Jun 19, 2016 5:10 PM GMT

    If you make 100,000 K a year, and put 15% of your salary towards your debt, it will take you 22 years to pay that off. I am not sure about the tax rate on 100,000K in your state, but factor in where you want to live and lifestyle expenses, you are probably looking at taking home 60,000 a year tops after taxes and loans. So can you pay rent, car, food, possible family in your area on 60,000 a year, and that's with your estimated earnings of 100,000K which sounds like a lot for a pharmacist but i don't know about that stuff.

    Having 220,000 dollars of debt is a very serious issue. You already have a degree, how much are you making now?

    I really don't understand why you need 5 years of schooling to be a pharmacist on top of what you already have. And i certainly don't understand why that schooling is going to cost 30,000 dollars a year. That's insane.

    Don't forget it's not just the 5 years you are adding debt, it's 5 years you aren't working. So if you are making 50,000 a year now, that's another 250,000 dollars on top of the 150,000 more you are paying.


    You've mentioned you've recently graduated with a degree already, how recently? Why did you get this degree? Was it with the same reasoning that leads you to the pharmacy degree? What happens if you graduate 5 years from now and suddenly want a different degree?

    I do not know how debt works in America, but it is my understanding it's harder to get out of debt in America than it is in Canada.

    Is there anyone in your life with experience you can speak to about this issue? An older brother or family friend who is in a similar situation? Have you spoken to any debt counsellors ever? Do you even have those in America or do they charge LOL

    Anyways, It's really about numbers and the reality of your 100,000 a year pay off. Is pharmacy a stable industry, have you looked into that? Has your friend specifically guaranteed you a job at those wages? Is your current degree not useful? Why have you given up on it so fast?


    You don't want to make such a decision if you are only doing it to escape a life you don't currently like. Going back to school might be something that is familiar or atleast structured that you are escaping to, the promise of a better tomorrow, that might not actually be there when you get out. You may just be as unhappy and only have more debt.

  • charlitos666

    Posts: 292

    Jun 19, 2016 5:54 PM GMT
    well wtf, i thought my 20k student debt was bad. Dont do it man. 100k aint that much money, you are going to need upwards 200k+ to pay off that debt in a semi-comfortable way. Just think that you will be 31 by the time you are done with your degree and 200k+ in debt. That sounds a bit insane to me. Do you own any property right now?
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4865

    Jun 19, 2016 7:32 PM GMT
    You have to consider the dangers of student loans. They cannot be wiped out by declaring bankruptcy. They will never go away unless paid off. If you still have student loan debt when you start collecting social security, even your social security can be garnished. After you die, your estate can be attached. Student loans are the most dangerous form of debt.

    I'm not saying that under no circumstances should one acquire student loan debt, but the amount should be kept to an absolute minimum!

    When you mention how much pharmacists earn in NY, I don't know whether you mean NYC or NY state. As you no doubt know, living costs in NYC are through the stratosphere. If the pharmacy jobs you expect to get are in NYC, you'd have to spend much of the day commuting to some place where you could afford to live, or would would have to cram yourself into a tiny apartment with several roommates. And, that situation could last a long time. Also, the pharmacy jobs which now seem certain may turn out not to be certain at all. Changes in technology have greatly reduced the demand for employees in some occupations, including professional occupations, including even librarians with masters degrees. It may even be that dispensing prescriptions will become automated to the extent that the demand for pharmacists will be cut to 1/4 of what it is now. It is high risk.

    Right now, doctors contact pharmacies and a pharmacist dispenses the prescription. What if in the future the doctor sends a message to a pharmacy, a computer automatically checks all the patient's prescriptions and his medical record to make sure that the prescription is appropriate, and a machine prepares the prescription which is later simply handed to the patient by a clerk at the pharmacy? That could easily happen.

    At 5%, the interest on a student loan debt of $220K would be $11K per year, or about $916 per month, and that does not include paying down the principal.

    Unless you can find a much less expensive and faster way to get the degree in pharmacy, I suggest that you use you business degree to get a job as quickly as you can!
  • Import

    Posts: 7193

    Jun 19, 2016 8:42 PM GMT
    interesting saidWow, why is the pharmacy up there cost so much?? I'm entering my first year too in a couple of months down here, but luckily, in Florida we have this program call Bright Futures Scholarship, where if you get a certain GPA in high school, the state lottery program pays 100% of your undergraduate tuition, I got that taken care of, all I had to worry about was boarding and books and general life, which I had a job to counter and a bunch of other scholarships so I left college with no loans.

    And in a few years, I've saved up for what is now going to be Professional School since it's Pharmacy. But I don't see why you shouldn't go for it, the federal interest for student loans is I think only 5% right now. But again, getting back to Pharmacy School, what the hell, it costs 30K for tuition per year? Is that projected spending that includes books, boarding, and etc...Or is that the actual tuition paid to school? Down here, it's about 11K per semester, so 22K in a year actual money paid to the college of pharmacy. And I would be done with the program by the 4th year, is it 5 at your school? Luckily, I am also leeching off my parents while being in school, woohoo, free rent and food!

    But either way, financially, it's an initial investment that would pay off, because you would be making a 6 figures salary per year, and calculating taxes and daily life expenses, it would take a few years to pay it off. Some pharmacists I know take over 10 years paying it off because they said the interest rate was locked in at 3% when they borrowed so they have no reason to rush on it.


    Regarding Bright Futures... Your class was one of the very LAST classes in the state of FL to receive 100% Bright Futures. Due to state funding cuts, Bright Futures does not cover 100% of anything anymore. Rather Bright Futures will allot a certain dollar amount per credit hour. They used to call it "75%" and "100%" cuz the scholarship (depending on which one you qualified for) would actually cover either 75% or 100% of tuition costs at a state public university... No longer, unfortunately.


    OP, $220k is a lot of student loan debt to take on. It could be crippling right after school trying to make those payments. They will be as much as a mortgage payment every month. Keep in mind you'll need to pay rent, utilities, personal expenses in addition to your student loan debt. I imagine a monthly payment for $220k worth of student loans is as much as the cost to rent a decent one bed room aprtment. Maybe more.

    If you could only get that $70k in undergrad student loan debt "forgiven" i'd say it's doable, but damn....I couldn't imagine having to make payments on $220k for student loans.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 19, 2016 9:27 PM GMT
    Bad financial decision.

    I was also business major, and my first months/years were challenging.

    Here's what I know....business school professors can't prepare you to be successful in business. This is especially true for sales. They'll give you a foundation to understand the general world of business, but that's it. I always wanted to be a salesman, but I wasn't good at it, and felt like the business major was a bad choice. I considered returning for a professional degree, such as law school (sound familiar?), but I rejected more schooling on the advice of my parents. They reminded me that I wanted to be a successful businessman and that I needed to be persistent in my quest.

    Things took a good turn for me when I took a job selling cars at a small luxury car dealership. I ended up working with some talented people, and they were very generous teaching me what they knew about selling. The owner sent me out for sales training. I read sales books....listened to Zig Ziglar and others. Most importantly, I began to see myself as ambitious and I showed up early. Eventually, I became quite good at selling....and the better I got, the more I loved selling. What really excited me was the money. I was 28 and had zero debt, some investments, and was driving a late model luxury car.

    You chose business for a reason. Maybe do some self analysis and figure out what excites you. A job as a pharmaceutical company sales rep might be a good way to get in the business.
  • onlyawhisper

    Posts: 61

    Jun 19, 2016 11:21 PM GMT
    badbug said
    If you make 100,000 K a year, and put 15% of your salary towards your debt, it will take you 22 years to pay that off. I am not sure about the tax rate on 100,000K in your state, but factor in where you want to live and lifestyle expenses, you are probably looking at taking home 60,000 a year tops after taxes and loans. So can you pay rent, car, food, possible family in your area on 60,000 a year, and that's with your estimated earnings of 100,000K which sounds like a lot for a pharmacist but i don't know about that stuff.

    Having 220,000 dollars of debt is a very serious issue. You already have a degree, how much are you making now?

    I really don't understand why you need 5 years of schooling to be a pharmacist on top of what you already have. And i certainly don't understand why that schooling is going to cost 30,000 dollars a year. That's insane.

    Don't forget it's not just the 5 years you are adding debt, it's 5 years you aren't working. So if you are making 50,000 a year now, that's another 250,000 dollars on top of the 150,000 more you are paying.


    You've mentioned you've recently graduated with a degree already, how recently? Why did you get this degree? Was it with the same reasoning that leads you to the pharmacy degree? What happens if you graduate 5 years from now and suddenly want a different degree?

    I do not know how debt works in America, but it is my understanding it's harder to get out of debt in America than it is in Canada.

    Is there anyone in your life with experience you can speak to about this issue? An older brother or family friend who is in a similar situation? Have you spoken to any debt counsellors ever? Do you even have those in America or do they charge LOL

    Anyways, It's really about numbers and the reality of your 100,000 a year pay off. Is pharmacy a stable industry, have you looked into that? Has your friend specifically guaranteed you a job at those wages? Is your current degree not useful? Why have you given up on it so fast?


    You don't want to make such a decision if you are only doing it to escape a life you don't currently like. Going back to school might be something that is familiar or atleast structured that you are escaping to, the promise of a better tomorrow, that might not actually be there when you get out. You may just be as unhappy and only have more debt.



    I graduated a month ago with a Bachelors of Science in Business Management. I really am not interested in business, but I was in school for so long and was originally going to do something in the healthcare field like Pharmacy or Physician Assistant. I wasn't prepared at the time to take on those difficult courses, so I just settled on business because I wanted to finish my undergrad.

    $100k a year for a pharmacist is on the low end, I know someone who is making $140k. Although supposedly the field is getting saturated now, and wages aren't as high as they used to be, but I don't know if that's entirely true or not.

    The reason for it being 5 years on top of what I already have, is because I need a year's worth of additional science pre-requisites that I haven't taken yet, before starting the actual professional phase of the pharmacy program, which is 4 years. It is for a doctorate degree program (all pharmacists in the US are now required to have their PharmD aka "Doctor of Pharmacy").

    If I did end up doing this, I'd probably have to live at home and basically throw an entire year's salary (or at least the majority of it) to pay off my loans before moving out on my own. I just don't know if I want to be doing that at 31 years old.
  • Cutlass

    Posts: 426

    Jun 25, 2016 6:01 AM GMT
    Compounding more debt on top of current debt sounds like a bad idea. Student loans have to be paid back no matter what, and that could make you miserable if all the money you make goes to paying off the loan and you can't enjoy the money you make. Making the best of your business degree might be the better choice.
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    Jun 25, 2016 12:23 PM GMT
    pick a career that is internet proof. The local brick & mortar Pharmacy will not exist in the next 10years
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 25, 2016 12:59 PM GMT
    Standing most of the day filling pill bottles? How incredibly boring that must be.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 25, 2016 2:59 PM GMT
    Starting with 220 k in debit at 31 is suicide to me .....
    America really has to review his education system !!! With all those taxes paid you would think education could be free ...icon_eek.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 25, 2016 7:15 PM GMT
    increasing college costs will reduce opportunity in the land of the free. your invisible unless your take home is quarter million/year
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 01, 2016 9:24 PM GMT
    While the job prospect looks attractive after Pharm grad school, it is no guarantee it will be there in the next four years. Job security means nothing when that small independent pharmacy is not there anymore four years from now (sorry to be grim, but a possibility can be reality).

    From your posts, the only reason why you're succumbing to this specific school is the likelihood of still in grad school when you're 30+. There's nothing wrong with that. If waiting a year for a good program from a well respected state school can give you similar results, I don't see why not wait a year. One year is nothing in the bigger scheme of things, to be honest. You can use this gap year building your rapport, work experience, and additional networking, travels etc.

    I was there before thinking that at 27, I should have my PhD or already finished with Grad school - but that meant being in 100k in student debt. It wasn't practical for me. The reality is, I'm still on the road to get my doctorate even if I'll be 30; but the experiences, network, and travels I made by simply taking it slow is irreplaceable and priceless.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 02, 2016 1:44 PM GMT
    There is and should be an HONEST, serious process of analysis on your desires, needs, resources, values and goals.
    Education and investing in yourself is always positive.
    Education is NOT always something that you acquire in a "bricks and mortar" setting.
    A lot of "education" is experience, maturity and the logical decision making process of applying practical reality of current situations to achieve a desired outcome.
    Informed decisions of career path and the investment of time and resources requires you to look at trends in the field.
    Will there likely be a demand for this type of graduate?
    Does the income level of these individuals, warrant or support the size and type of debt to be incurred?
    Needlessly mortgaging the future is not consistent with the desired outcome.
    In this case, the size of debt and the type of debt is an unacceptable risk.
    Alternatives must be considered.
    Taking on this type and size of debt for the vanity of a school program name is foolish and would be a red flag to a reasonable, logical, educated person.
    Age 25 is NOT OLD and is certainly not too old to be in college.
    If anything, you are reacting as I would expect a 25 year old...concerned that you have the status symbols and prestige of "the right names" at any cost and an impetuous need to get there NOW!
    With a degree in Business, if you pursue a PharmD, I would expect that you will have several undergraduate level, foundation courses to pick up before you could start the formal program. Pic these up at a community college or other lower cost school and transfer them in. As this foundation bridge work of courses is likely to take a year, I would go for admission into the state university program. Also, explore funding sources beyond student loans. Grants and scholarships do not require repayment. Also see if you can get assistance from any potential companies or employers...they pay for you to attend, and you contractually owe them a number of years of employment for a reduced pay scale... Consider more options....Maybe military?
    Fast answer...look at the options you have not explored. This is too much debt too early in life, with no prospect of relief under any circumstance...do not do this to yourself. Mortgaging a dream this way, becomes a nightmare.