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How to Pay for Your PA Education with Income Share Agreements



How to Pay for Your PA Education with Income Share Agreements

One of the most important things to consider when deciding on whether or not to apply to PA school is how you plan to pay for it. If you’re like me and thinking about money (or lack thereof) makes you anxious, then this is a MUST read for you.

Student Loan Debt

Many physician assistant students struggle with the idea of student loan debt for PA school. In 2018, The Physician Assistant Education Association asked students about how much they expect their debt to be. The answers were staggering, with 12% expecting $50,000 to $74,999; 19% expecting $75,000 to $99,999; and 22% expecting $100,000 to $124,999 in debt. This is on top of a national average of $37,172 from undergraduate education. The state of student loan debt for nursing, dental, and pharmacy students is similarly high. Physician assistant students, who generally spend four years in an undergraduate program, and two years in graduate school (after obtaining some professional experience in the field!), are at the crux of the issue.

How I Paid For School Back Then

When I was accepted to PA school in 2003, I had been out of college and employed for 3 years, but certainly had not saved money for graduate school. I was living in Boston at 22 years old, paying rent, having fun, and spending money on pre-PA activities like taking prerequisite courses. So when I was hit with the cost of PA school I wanted to cry. Luckily, I had my parents to help guide me through the options. At that time, loans were the only option so I applied for a combination of federal loans and private loans. I ended up with a portion of my tuition being paid with a Perkins Loan and the other by good old Sallie Mae. If you have no idea what I am talking about, here’s a quick 411 on the difference between these loans.

Difference Between Loan Types

Federal loans are established by the government, meaning the terms are set by law. This can have benefits like fixed interest rates and income based repayment plans. Private loans come from credit unions, banks, or private organizations, so conditions are set by the tender. These tend to be more expensive and typically have variable interest rates. The Perkins Loan that I received is a type of federal loan that is eligible for cancellation after having qualifying employment or volunteer experience for a certain length of time. For example, after 5 years of working as a PA, my Perkins Loan was cancelled and I never paid a dollar. Yes, I had to fill out paperwork every year, but it was totally worth it. As for my private loan, well, I am STILL paying it off. The interest rates initially were high so it took me years to even pay the original principal of the loan.

Luckily, I was able to consolidate to lower the interest rate over the last few years. I am so close to the finish line, but let’s be real, it’s been almost 15 years!! Had there been alternative ways to fund my PA education, I would have been all ears, which is why I was so excited to hear about ISAs (Income Share Agreements) for future or current PA students. In a sea of student debt, Income Share Agreements offer a way out.

Income Share Agreements

An Income Share Agreement, or ISA, is an agreement where a student receives an upfront payment for tuition and, in return, agrees to pay a percentage of their income for a set number of payments. It is an extremely attractive and beneficial alternative to student loans that allows students to fund their education in a more flexible and affordable way. This is a particularly great funding option for physician assistant students.

Income Share Agreements change the game of education funding completely. Because the payments are actually calculated based on income, they’re easily affordable and even remove the burden of continuous interest from traditional student loans. PA students’ futures, then, are no longer dictated by the loans they took on to pay for school.

Focusing on What Matters

As PAs, we’re in the medical field for the love of helping patients. By eliminating the burden of student loan debt, Income Share Agreements allow PAs to focus on what matters – our patients – without having to stress about monthly payments and interest rates.

ISAs also enable PAs to focus on setting aside earnings for progress in other areas of life. Without a mountain of student loan debt and monthly payments that barely cover interest amounts, PA school graduates are able to focus on other life goals. Buying a house. Buying a new car. Going on a vacation. Saving for retirement. Exploring a different medical specialties. CNBC reports that “buying a home can be almost impossible with massive student loan debt.” Income Share Agreements help make this dream a reality.

Invest in Yourself

Income Share Agreements allow PA students to invest in themselves and in their futures. The goal of any medical professional is simple: to help others and care for their patients. Without the burden of student loan debt, these graduates can focus on what matters, while planning for their future. To learn more about how you can use an ISA to fund PA school, visit Stride Funding. If only I could use an ISA to fund my shopping addiction too 🙂

Link to use for Stride Funding:

For More Information

For more information about income share agreements or questions about PA life in general, you can contact Michele at or from her contact page.

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