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LostLamb

Current cost for Carribean Med Schools - report from recent info session

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For curiosity's sake, I attended a Caribbean med school info session with someone who was similarly curious and considering attending one.

It seems the minimum all in cost for one of the second tier schools is $306K USD (includes tuition, housing, food, travel, clothing, etc. for the entire 4 years).

Thought this might be useful to some here considering that route to med school.

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8 hours ago, LostLamb said:

For curiosity's sake, I attended a Caribbean med school info session with someone who was similarly curious and considering attending one.

It seems the minimum all in cost for one of the second tier schools is $306K USD (includes tuition, housing, food, travel, clothing, etc. for the entire 4 years).

Thought this might be useful to some here considering that route to med school.

so 400K Can at current prices - that is the min you say? Was there a sense of what the average was? 

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2 hours ago, rmorelan said:

so 400K Can at current prices - that is the min you say? Was there a sense of what the average was? 

Which needs a parent cosigned loan... what happen when you can't pay it back (due to not matching or failing out) and now your older parents are on the hook?

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29 minutes ago, medigeek said:

Which needs a parent cosigned loan... what happen when you can't pay it back (due to not matching or failing out) and now your older parents are on the hook?

"it ain't pretty" 

I really don't see what the draw is there over the US schools. Similar costs but the advantages of accreditation are very powerful.  If it is a MCAT or GPA thing (for the US schools) then that has to be fixed prior to attempting medical school or your risk of failure it pretty high.  

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1 minute ago, rmorelan said:

"it ain't pretty" 

I really don't see what the draw is there over the US schools. Similar costs but the advantages of accreditation are very powerful.  If it is a MCAT or GPA thing (for the US schools) then that has to be fixed prior to attempting medical school or your risk of failure it pretty high.  

Getting into a US MD school is very challenging. You need Canadian MD type stats regardless. DO schools more or less want something close to that (for non-Americans)... from what I've heard now, it's gotten exponentially tougher and borderline Canadian MD stats are having some degree of trouble too. 

Caribbean schools will take basically anyone. So yep you're 100% right, risk of failure is high. I suppose SGU, the top school down there, expects something like a 3.0 or whatever but ultimately if you have a pulse - you're getting in down there! Few years ago I know the people going down there (to the "decent schools") had MCATs of 22 or GPAs of high 2s. And heard plenty of people with 2.0s and 16 mcats who went down there before. Scary...

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Just now, medigeek said:

Getting into a US MD school is very challenging. You need Canadian MD type stats regardless. DO schools more or less want something close to that (for non-Americans)... from what I've heard now, it's gotten exponentially tougher and borderline Canadian MD stats are having some degree of trouble too. 

Caribbean schools will take basically anyone. So yep you're 100% right, risk of failure is high. I suppose SGU, the top school down there, expects something like a 3.0 or whatever but ultimately if you have a pulse - you're getting in down there! Few years ago I know the people going down there (to the "decent schools") had MCATs of 22 or GPAs of high 2s. And heard plenty of people with 2.0s and 16 mcats who went down there before. Scary...

A lot of them are high for sure but there still seems to be a bit of relief at many of them I thought(?) Maybe it is getting worse and I haven't noticed. 

I have seen the blow back of those people for years as well going down, failing out, or even passing and not getting into anything they wanted for residency - huge debits, suboptimal residency programs, high risk of drop out (they will protect their pass rate by culling people - it is cheap to put people through preclerkship and just fail them if they aren't up to snuff - the entire business model seems to be based on it. It really is a blood bath. 

Honestly view them as just another group of people trying to take advantage of premeds. A few definitely do make it through but wow a whole lot more don't. 

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2 minutes ago, rmorelan said:

A lot of them are high for sure but there still seems to be a bit of relief at many of them I thought(?) Maybe it is getting worse and I haven't noticed. 

I have seen the blow back of those people for years as well going down, failing out, or even passing and not getting into anything they wanted for residency - huge debits, suboptimal residency programs, high risk of drop out (they will protect their pass rate by culling people - it is cheap to put people through preclerkship and just fail them if they aren't up to snuff - the entire business model seems to be based on it. It really is a blood bath. 

Honestly view them as just another group of people trying to take advantage of premeds. A few definitely do make it through but wow a whole lot more don't. 

I think recent years it's gotten tougher. Used to be if you had like a 3.7 or whatever, you'd get in somewhere. Now the American side is thinking, how do we benefit from this? 

 

And what happens to these poor people? Are their parents' assets taken away?

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1 minute ago, medigeek said:

I think recent years it's gotten tougher. Used to be if you had like a 3.7 or whatever, you'd get in somewhere. Now the American side is thinking, how do we benefit from this? 

 

And what happens to these poor people? Are their parents' assets taken away?

well yeah they are on the hook. The bank can go after either the parent or the child to get their money back and of course the parents have the assets.  It is better I think to view the loan as being entirely on the parents conceptually. 

and these loans are not at prime-0.25%, and student loans are harder to discharge in bankruptcy. 

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On 7/22/2018 at 12:58 PM, rmorelan said:

well yeah they are on the hook. The bank can go after either the parent or the child to get their money back and of course the parents have the assets.  It is better I think to view the loan as being entirely on the parents conceptually. 

and these loans are not at prime-0.25%, and student loans are harder to discharge in bankruptcy. 

The fees at Caribbeans schools are such a cash grab. I wish people would seriously sit down and do their due diligence before falling for the glossy pictures and tactic marketing pushed by these schools. I have a bunch of ads on Facebook for these schools - and one even said! Bring a friend and we'll offer a 20% discount on your first-yr tuition.. what?! ha

Some data I found from AAMC on USMD schools. Assuming the Canadian going to the USMD school isn't a dual citizen, the average cost is about US$60K each year. That's about US$240K for four years, ignoring living expenses and other ancillary fees. That's about C$318K, using the most recent fx rate. This is scary already. 

EDIT: Also, OSAP significantly decreases once you go out of the country. You go from a potential maximum of C$395/wk to only C$210/wk. 

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@rmorelan Yea, I suspect there is at least 50% additional cost for total cost of attendance at a tier one Caribbean school (AUC, SGU, Ross, Saba, and one more I can't remember). It was insane how the Director of Admissions (!) was essentially promoting their school as an affordable Caribbean school option.

A couple other pieces of information I gleaned that I should have included in my first post:

-Majority of attrition occurs in the first 3 semesters, whether for academic or non-academic reasons. Even collecting one semester's tuition from these students must be so lucrative for the school.

-when you are "deemed prepared for clinicals" (!) you interview for each of your core rotations, and rotations require various minimum GPAs to attend. I actually asked does that mean you have to fly out to every school for clerkship interviews? The answer is maybe, it depends on the site. Another time you'll need $$$.

-the director of admissions pointedly told attendees not to pay attention to anything they read on online forums, blogs, etc.

Final piece of advise: apparently Ross info sessions give you fully paid multi-course meal (again, why is the Director of Admissions of another school promoting this?), and we were encouraged to sign up for one just for the dinner! 

If you have free time, and are curious, these sessions are worth attending. I asked a few of the "hard questions" referencing how different this academic path is from North American schools, in part to see how the director would respond and in part to help inform the other attendees.

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1 hour ago, la marzocco said:

The fees at Caribbeans schools are such a cash grab. I wish people would seriously sit down and do their due diligence before falling for the glossy pictures and tactic marketing pushed by these schools. I have a bunch of ads on Facebook for these schools - and one even said! Bring a friend and we'll offer a 20% discount on your first-yr tuition.. what?! ha

1257559062_ScreenShot2018-07-22at1_27_31PM.thumb.png.ff79ace2ffd063d1bf67a36d561f79ff.png

Some data I found from AAMC on USMD schools. Assuming the Canadian going to the USMD school isn't a dual citizen, the average cost is about US$60K each year. That's about US$240K for four years, ignoring living expenses and other ancillary fees. That's about C$318K, using the most recent fx rate. This is scary already. 

EDIT: Also, OSAP significantly decreases once you go out of the country. You go from a potential maximum of C$395/wk to only C$210/wk. 

1432184052_ScreenShot2018-07-22at1_39_43PM.png.b01d222a0e9412e16b7ba10fbd9723fa.png

But going to a US school, you'll practice in the end and pay off the debt and liver happily ever after. Cannot say the same for carrib schools...

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Yeah, med school is definitely not worth going into anywhere near that much debt for.

Much better off finding a job with a lower barrier to entry that you can clock in/clock out at, with less stress and the ability to leave your work at work, when you go home for the evening.

Not to mention the ability to skip the many years of training before you are really competent at what you are doing or until you are making a sufficient income to pay off your debts, by avoiding medicine.

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4 minutes ago, freewheeler said:

Yeah, med school is definitely not worth going into anywhere near that much debt for.

Much better off finding a job with a lower barrier to entry that you can clock in/clock out at, with less stress and the ability to leave your work at work, when you go home for the evening.

Not to mention the ability to skip the many years of training before you are really competent at what you are doing or until you are making a sufficient income to pay off your debts, by avoiding medicine.

This is exactly it. Even US schools would have been a no-go for me. Psychologically, I just cannot fathom shouldering that much debt coming out of med school, and then have residency (+ potential fellowships) before you start making money. You can only do so much debt servicing during residency/fellowship. Sure, it's a hockey stick - you suffer for the first 10 years of your career in hopes of catching up, but time foregone is time foregone. 

 

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19 minutes ago, freewheeler said:

Yeah, med school is definitely not worth going into anywhere near that much debt for.

Much better off finding a job with a lower barrier to entry that you can clock in/clock out at, with less stress and the ability to leave your work at work, when you go home for the evening.

Not to mention the ability to skip the many years of training before you are really competent at what you are doing or until you are making a sufficient income to pay off your debts, by avoiding medicine.

Disagree. Few attending friends of mine had significantly more debt than mentioned in this thread and are very well off financially now. Alternative: become a lab tech with your bio degree making 40k. Versus... making mid 6 figures (if you choose to) with some debt. 

 

Not to mention, if you're financially smart you will utilize your loans to profit from them. 

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7 minutes ago, medigeek said:

Not to mention, if you're financially smart you will utilize your loans to profit from them. 

As in use loans to invest or buy a home? Or treat your student loans as a negative bond? How else are you going to net a profit from them. Plus, with the raising rate of interest, the delta between potential returns on the stock market versus the debt servicing costs are starting to narrow and with the stock market volatility, this is not a prudent move at all. 

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37 minutes ago, medigeek said:

Disagree. Few attending friends of mine had significantly more debt than mentioned in this thread and are very well off financially now. Alternative: become a lab tech with your bio degree making 40k. Versus... making mid 6 figures (if you choose to) with some debt. 

 

Not to mention, if you're financially smart you will utilize your loans to profit from them. 

Right, I don't doubt that. But the reality is that medicine is not for everyone in general, and if you are in the position with a poor MCAT/GPA that you are only considering some long-shots in the US or Caribbean, there's a lot more to unpack there before jettisoning off to the first school that tosses an acceptance in your direction.

I'm also writing from the perspective of someone who considers medicine to be "just a job" and doesn't find most of it particularly interesting or enjoyable. 

Residency positions also appear to be getting increasingly precarious in Canada alone, from a CMG perspective. Not to mention adding on a couple hundred thousand more in debt and astronomically more uncertainty should someone seriously contemplate the US or Caribbean, with visa issues, tropical storms (see Carib school not too long ago, that had their students on a cruise ship until they could find an arrangement with some DO school to share resources temporarily), the grind of the training process and then having to travel all over the place for rotations and having to constantly ingratiate your superiors as you hope for an eval that is more than a nondescript one-liner. There's also the burden of the Step exams that one would have to take and which have serious implications with respect to residency options. Doesn't sound like a particularly attractive lifestyle to endure as you continue to rationalize your doubts away in pursuit of that ever elusive carrot on a stick.

Not everyone who goes to the Caribbean or US as a Canadian is going to become a well-remunerated surgeon, internal medicine subspecialist, radiologist, or dermatologist. And what about those fellowships or graduate degrees? The ability to choose where you want to work? I also don't have much faith in the prospect of utilizing student loans to profit from them. I'm sure it's possible, but would wager it is incredibly uncommon...not to mention another source of risk and uncertainty in addition to everything outlined above. 

I'm also not entirely sure where a Canadian undergraduate student would acquire a cool $400-500K CAD to finance such an endeavour. Not everyone would have access to extensive family funds to bridge the gap left by inadequate student loans or meet the criteria for the few scholarships available. And what about the exchange ratio of the Canadian dollar...this isn't exactly a rosy picture being built.

The point isn't to be entirely risk-averse, but to be well-informed and comprehensively evaluate the situation at hand, prior to undertaking a risk that one must be personally comfortable with bearing and willing to endure the potential consequences of.

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On 7/22/2018 at 12:51 PM, rmorelan said:

A lot of them are high for sure but there still seems to be a bit of relief at many of them I thought(?) Maybe it is getting worse and I haven't noticed. 

I have seen the blow back of those people for years as well going down, failing out, or even passing and not getting into anything they wanted for residency - huge debits, suboptimal residency programs, high risk of drop out (they will protect their pass rate by culling people - it is cheap to put people through preclerkship and just fail them if they aren't up to snuff - the entire business model seems to be based on it. It really is a blood bath. 

 Honestly view them as just another group of people trying to take advantage of premeds. A few definitely do make it through but wow a whole lot more don't. 

I mean you can look at it from both ways. Another way is that it gives people who wouldn't have a chance in the US and Canada of becoming a doctor. There are people who may be non-trad, can't spare the few years it takes to improve their GPA/MCAT due to life circumstances, people who don't need or care to become a super specialist or go to a prestigious residency program. Those people do benefit from the Caribbean. 

They offer an option, it is truly up to each individual if they want to take them up on it. The Caribbean doesn't pretend its not a for profit school and there are tons and tons of threads like this and stories of people not doing well and warning others and also many success stories. The information is out there and if people go to the Caribbean uninformed and don't do well that really is on them and not the school. 

 

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24 minutes ago, Edict said:

I mean you can look at it from both ways. Another way is that it gives people who wouldn't have a chance in the US and Canada of becoming a doctor. There are people who may be non-trad, can't spare the few years it takes to improve their GPA/MCAT due to life circumstances, people who don't need or care to become a super specialist or go to a prestigious residency program. Those people do benefit from the Caribbean. 

They offer an option, it is truly up to each individual if they want to take them up on it. The Caribbean doesn't pretend its not a for profit school and there is tons and tons of threads like this and stories of people not doing well and warning others and also many success stories. The information is out there and if people go to the Caribbean uninformed and don't do well that really is on them and not the school. 

I agree with you. Due diligence is so key. So many of my friends were flaunting they were going to Europe/Caribbeans right after high school into medicine! It's hard to understand all the pros and cons when you're a 17 year old.

And now.. programs like these: https://www.trentu.ca/premedicalstudies/stgeorges are starting to pop up. A joint Trent University-St. George pre-medical/medical pathway blah blah.

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4 hours ago, freewheeler said:

Right, I don't doubt that. But the reality is that medicine is not for everyone in general, and if you are in the position with a poor MCAT/GPA that you are only considering some long-shots in the US or Caribbean, there's a lot more to unpack there before jettisoning off to the first school that tosses an acceptance in your direction.

I'm also writing from the perspective of someone who considers medicine to be "just a job" and doesn't find most of it particularly interesting or enjoyable. 

Residency positions also appear to be getting increasingly precarious in Canada alone, from a CMG perspective. Not to mention adding on a couple hundred thousand more in debt and astronomically more uncertainty should someone seriously contemplate the US or Caribbean, with visa issues, tropical storms (see Carib school not too long ago, that had their students on a cruise ship until they could find an arrangement with some DO school to share resources temporarily), the grind of the training process and then having to travel all over the place for rotations and having to constantly ingratiate your superiors as you hope for an eval that is more than a nondescript one-liner. There's also the burden of the Step exams that one would have to take and which have serious implications with respect to residency options. Doesn't sound like a particularly attractive lifestyle to endure as you continue to rationalize your doubts away in pursuit of that ever elusive carrot on a stick.

Not everyone who goes to the Caribbean or US as a Canadian is going to become a well-remunerated surgeon, internal medicine subspecialist, radiologist, or dermatologist. And what about those fellowships or graduate degrees? The ability to choose where you want to work? I also don't have much faith in the prospect of utilizing student loans to profit from them. I'm sure it's possible, but would wager it is incredibly uncommon...not to mention another source of risk and uncertainty in addition to everything outlined above. 

I'm also not entirely sure where a Canadian undergraduate student would acquire a cool $400-500K CAD to finance such an endeavour. Not everyone would have access to extensive family funds to bridge the gap left by inadequate student loans or meet the criteria for the few scholarships available. And what about the exchange ratio of the Canadian dollar...this isn't exactly a rosy picture being built.

The point isn't to be entirely risk-averse, but to be well-informed and comprehensively evaluate the situation at hand, prior to undertaking a risk that one must be personally comfortable with bearing and willing to endure the potential consequences of.

You're mixing 2 things up. Low mcat/gpa won't get you into the US. And going to the carib = ~40% chance of failure (at least) vs USA 5% chance. 

You can make mid to high 6 figures as a family doc if you play your cards right. There are docs doing it right now (ex. high volume FHOs). And hence the loans are well worthwhile. 

However I do agree with the visa issues and for that reason I think going to the US will soon become an unwise option. Carib has always been and will be even more of a terrible option.  

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