Pharmacists are well-paid, but many enter the workforce with well over $100,000 in debt. In this article information on a new tool for managing pharmacy school debt is discussed: the Your Financial Pharmacist Student Loan Course.
Interview With: Timothy Ulbrich, Pharm.D.
Interview By: Timothy P. Gauthier, Pharm.D., BCPS-AQ ID
[Last updated: 30 August 2018]
As a pharmacy school faculty member I used to spend a lot of time speaking with students. One of the most exciting times to engage with them was as graduation neared and they finally had an idea of what their first months and years as a pharmacists were likely to bring. With that excitement however, was a topic that came up over and over and over again – massive student loan debt.
As I listened to these soon-to-be pharmacists vocalize a lack of a concrete plan in how they intended to tackle their financial challenges, I remember feeling 3 things. First, I felt empathetic as my wife and I had accrued well over $100,000 in college loan debt and had missed several opportunities to manage it smarter. Second, I felt a bit guilty as the thing that largely created their debt (i.e., tuition) contributed to paying my salary. Third, I felt somewhat helpless to mentor and empower them to take hold of their financial futures, as I too struggled with this and knew of very few resources on the topic.
While I departed academia several years ago now, there is no question that pharmacy school student loan debt remains an extremely relevant topic to our profession and many people need help today. This is why when I heard about the Your Financial Pharmacist (YFP) Student Loan Course, I was intrigued and excited.
Interacting with the trio of Tims over at YFP in the last year, they have earned my respect and trust. I know that they are pursuing the YFP activities for the right reasons, have the skills to develop quality products, and can actually help a lot of people.
The goal of this interview is to help raise awareness about the YFP Student Loan Course as a resource for managing finances and to help others see what this novel resource can do for them.
1. What is the primary objective of the YFP Student Loan Course?
The amount of debt today’s graduate is facing along with the complexity of choosing the best payoff strategy often leaves students and new graduates feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Unfortunately, I can speak from personal experience that not choosing the best payoff strategy can be costly and unnecessarily stressful.
Therefore, the primary objective of the YFP Student Loan Course is to help pharmacists and student pharmacists choose the ONE student loan payoff strategy that is best for their personal situation.
Having a plan related to paying off student loans is the key to having peace of mind and being able to move forward with achieving other financial goals. If you are feeling confused, frustrated with your progress to date or want to confirm you are on the right path with your student loan payoff strategy, this course is for you.
2. How was the YFP Student Loan Course developed?
In 2012, I found myself utterly confused about what to do with my student loans and frustrated that I had been out of residency for 4 years and made very little progress on achieving my financial goals. The feeling I had of spinning my wheels became evident when I realized that I had a net worth of negative $225,000 despite making approximately $500,000 of income during that time period.
The reality had sunk in… I was feeling like I was living paycheck to paycheck despite making a six-figure income. Something had to change.
Fast forward to 2015 where I hit submit on my very last payment of more than $200,000 of student loan debt, had a positive net worth, and was feeling empowered, optimistic and in control of my financial future.
What changed during those 3 years? Educating myself, being intentional and taking action.
That’s why in 2015, after paying off my student loan debt, I started the Your Financial Pharmacist blog to empower a community of pharmacists and student pharmacists to achieve financial freedom. I then co-authored the book Seven Figure Pharmacist with Tim Church PharmD, BCACP and shortly after started the Your Financial Pharmacist Podcast.
While the team at YFP was making great strides in helping others achieve their financial goals with the blog, book and podcast, I knew we weren’t moving the needle enough on helping our community with the #1 problem they were facing… being overwhelmed, frustrated and confused with how to best pay off their student loans.
And that is why we launched the YFP Student Loan Course… to help pharmacists and student pharmacists take control of their student loans by being able to confidently choose the best payoff strategy for their personal situation.
3. How much time does it take to complete the YFP Student Loan Course?
This self-paced online course includes 14 bite-sized actionable lessons that take approximately 4 hours to complete.
In addition to the online modules, the course offers the following resources…
- A workbook that follows each lesson and emphasizes key concepts
- A student loan milestone checklist to keep keep track with completing the course and putting a payoff plan in place
- A zero-based budgeting template to help determine how much money is available each month to put towards student loan debt
- A Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) checklist and spreadsheet that outlines all the steps to ensure things are on track
- A state-specific tuition repayment/reimbursement programs available for pharmacists
- A refinance spreadsheet to easily compare interest rates and payments with multiple companies
- Access to a private Facebook group with the course instructors and other enrollees to learn from and motivate each other
4. Is it better to do the YFP Student Loan Course as a pharmacy student or as a pharmacist?
Yes and yes! In short, this course is beneficial for students, residents and any pharmacist that is looking to optimize their student loan payoff plan.
As I think back to my own journey of fumbling through $200,000 of student loan debt and having very little understanding of my payoff options, I wish I would have had this information available to me as a student so I could prevent as many mistakes as possible and educate myself as soon as possible. With that being said, I know that I did not fully appreciate (although I should have) the impact my student loans were having on the rest of my financial plan until that first payment came due after the grace period and I thought to myself “Say what?! How much do I owe? For 10 years, seriously?”
In hindsight, by not knowing all of my repayment options available to me, I stayed in the federal student loan program with an average interest rate hovering around 6% when I could have (1) pursued the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program or (2) refinanced my student loans.
At minimum, I estimate I could have saved $25,000 by refinancing and WAY more by going all in on PSLF.
In other words, if I were to have had access to the material found in this course, I would have saved at least $25,000 and a lot of stress and headaches along the way.
5. How can pharmacists and pharmacy students who elect to take the YFP Student Loan Course know that their time and money will be well spent?
When I started Your Financial Pharmacist back in 2015, I was committed to creating content that was (1) custom designed for the pharmacy professional and (2) would have an immediate impact on one’s personal financial situation such that any investment in buying a product would be outweighed by the benefits that product provided. The YFP Student Loan Course is no exception considering the value the course provides relative to the price.
So, what specifically makes the YFP Student Loan Course a good investment?
After taking the course, you will…
- Get organized with your student loans, know how much you owe, and who you owe
- Create a zero-based budget so you can determine how much you can afford to pay toward your student loans and how they fit with your other financial priorities
- Have clarity on the ONE payoff strategy that is best for you, and aligns with your financial goals
- Understand different options to accelerate or optimize your payoff plan
- Walk confidently, knowing you have a sound plan to attack your student loans
If you are thinking, “Tim, like you felt yourself back in 2012, I feel like I’m living paycheck to paycheck, because of my student loans. How could I possibly purchase this course?”
The reality is, you can’t afford to NOT take it. Seriously, if you choose the wrong payoff strategy, it could cost you many thousands of dollars and keep you in debt longer than you need to be.
I am confident that the money you will invest to take the course will be outweighed in a significant way by the benefits afforded to you. And if for some reason you are not happy with the course, we offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
Do not just take my word for it… here are what others are saying about the course…
“This course provided me with the knowledge to get organized with my student loans and maximize opportunities for paying them off.” Jennifer, Pharmacist; Camp Hill, PA
“This course saved me over $14,000 in interest. If that’s not a good return on investment, I don’t know what is.” Brandon, Pharmacist; Austin TX
“This course definitely helped give me peace of mind when it comes to my student loans. When I graduate in a year, I can tackle my debt with confidence and a well laid out plan.” Alyssa, Student Pharmacist; Gainesville, FL
6. Are there other resources offered by YFP besides the Student Loan Course?
Yes! Since starting Your Financial Pharmacist back in 2015, I have joined forces with Tim Church, PharmD, BCACP and Tim Baker, CFP to build the most comprehensive personal finance resource for pharmacists and student pharmacists. Head on over to www.yourfinancialpharmacist.com where you will find the podcast, blog, free guides, calculators and lots more!
If you are not already part of the YFP community on the YFP Facebook Page, come and join the conversation where you will be inspired, challenged and supported in your own financial journey.
About The Interviewee
Timothy Ulbrich, Pharm.D. is a professor of pharmacy practice and associate dean at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) College of Pharmacy. He received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Ohio Northern University and completed postgraduate residency training at The Ohio State University.
After working hard to pay off $200,000 in debt since graduating from pharmacy school, he is on a mission to empower pharmacists and pharmacy students to take control of their personal finances. He is the author of the popular personal finance blog Your Financial Pharmacist that is designed specifically for pharmacists and pharmacy students.
He is also the co-author of the newly released book Seven Figure Pharmacist: How to Maximize Your Income, Eliminate Debt and Create Wealth.
You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for regular financial tips that will help you on the journey to achieving financial freedom.
Disclaimer: Dr. Gauthier is an affiliate member of the YFP Student Loan Course.
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