Founded in 1992, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) was the 16th osteopathic medical school to open in the United States. Since then, LECOM has grown to become the largest medical school in the country.
LECOM now has campuses in Erie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in addition to Bradenton, Florida. In 2002, the school expanded its main campus to add another 100,000 square feet of learning facilities. It added a School of Pharmacy in 2002, followed by a School of Dental Medicine in 2012.
It’s clear that LECOM is a vibrant and growing school. And it’s easy to see why aspiring doctors, pharmacists, or dentists would want to train at such a great college.
But when it comes to choosing a school, you also need to consider the cost. And, as we’ll see, LECOM Pharmacy School students especially need to pay attention to the cost of their Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Let’s take a look at what it costs to attend LECOM Pharmacy School and what you can do about LECOM student debt.
Attendance at LECOM
LECOM boasts a current enrollment of 4,223 medical students. Of those students, over 50% are enrolled in the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program (2,256 students).
Another 25% of students are enrolled in the LECOM School of Pharmacy (1,078 students). LECOM’s third-largest program is its School of Dental Medicine, accounting for nearly 10% of students (408 students).
And about 15% of LECOM’s student body is sprinkled throughout the school’s nine remaining programs.
|Doctor of Osteopathic|
|Doctor of Pharmacy||1,078||2,671|
|Doctor of Anatomy|
|Doctor of Medical|
|Masters in Health Services|
|Master of Science in|
|Master of Science in|
|Master of Medical Science||77||123|
|Master of Science in|
LECOM says that it receives the most medical school applications in the United States.
Cost of attending LECOM Pharmacy School
For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on the cost of attending the LECOM Pharmacy School. Why? Because, as we’ll see later, the pharmacy industry is in the midst of a big shift. And it could drastically affect the risk/reward proposition of pursuing a PharmD degree.
LECOM Pharmacy School tuition and fees
LECOM prides itself on being one of the most affordable private medical schools in the country. One of the ways it is able to do that is by using an accelerated three-year program for the LECOM School of Pharmacy.
That helps graduates save a year of room and board and start their first jobs or residencies sooner. But being one of the cheapest private schools doesn’t necessarily make it a cheap school overall. It’s still going to cost you a lot of money to attend Lake Erie College of Pharmacy.
LECOM pharmacy tuition is a flat $27,730 per year. So over a three-year span, your total LECOM pharmacy tuition cost would be $83,190. But, the annual cost more than doubles when you add in all the other fees, like room and board, insurance and transportation.
Adding each year’s expenses together, you can expect Lake Erie College of Pharmacy to cost you a total of $171,097.
How much LECOM Pharmacy School student debt to expect?
So without taking anything else into account, you could graduate from LECOM Pharmacy School with $171,097 worth of student debt. But many graduates could end up with even more debt due to tuition increases and accrued interest.
To account for these factors, take your total cost of attendance and multiply it by 1.25 to get a more realistic estimate.
$171,097 (LECOM pharmacy tuition and fees) x 1.25 = $213,871 total cost of attendance
Of course, if you’re able to get grants and/or scholarships, you could reduce your student debt total. According to College Scorecard, the median debt for LECOM Pharmacy School grads is $154,098.
That’s still a ton of debt no matter what kind of salary you expect to bring in during your career. And if you aren’t able to land any grants or scholarships, you could easily end up with more debt than these medians. Student Loan Planner has consulted a large number of pharmacists, and the average student debt has been $213,000.
Concerns for LECOM Pharmacy School students
If you only read marketing brochures or online ads from pharmacy schools, you may think of a career in pharmacy as a golden ticket to wealth. But there are some troubling facts about the pharmacist job outlook that you need to be aware of.
First, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 0% growth over the next 10 years. Second, there are more pharmacy schools — and with higher acceptance rates — than ever before. There are simply more pharmacists entering the workforce each year than jobs becoming available.
And while the median pharmacist salary is still high at $126,120, you’ll only make that much if you can find a full-time job. But many of the pharmacists that have consulted with Student Loan Planner have said that’s a difficult task.
Finally, you have to take lost earnings into account. According to the BLS, the average bachelor’s degree graduate will make around $60,000 per year. So by spending four years at LECOM pharmacy school, you could be giving up $240,000 of earned income in addition to taking on around $200,000 worth of debt. That’s over $400,000.
Is going to LECOM Pharmacy School a good decision?
Based on the job outlook for pharmacists, Student Loan Planner wouldn’t recommend that you attend Lake Erie College of Pharmacy for purely financial reasons.
But finances aren’t your only consideration. If you have a passion for pharmaceutical work, getting your PharmD degree could still be the right decision for you. But, even so, you may want to see if you can find a state school that’s more affordable.
Related: The Top 10 Cheapest Medical Schools
3 ways to pay back high student loan debt from LECOM
If you’ve already graduated from LECOM with a lot of student debt, here are your top three repayment strategies.
Pursue forgiveness and repayment programs
There are a few forgiveness and repayment programs that pharmacists can qualify for. If you work for a state or non-profit hospital, your best bet is probably to apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
With PSLF, you could receive full tax-free forgiveness in as little as 10 years. Learn about one pharmacist who is using PSLF to pay off over $200,000 of student debt. If you don’t qualify for PSLF, there are other repayment programs that are designed specifically for medical professionals.
- For instance, the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP) has State Loan Repayment Programs that provide student loan repayment for pharmacists who work part-time or full-time at an NHSC-approved site.
- And the NIH Loan Repayment Programs offer up to $50,000 per year of student loan repayment for healthcare professionals (including pharmacists) who do research that supports the National Institutes of Health mission.
Both of these student loan repayment programs are competitive. But if you’re able to get accepted, they could save you a ton of money.
Reduce your monthly payments with an Income-Driven Repayment plan
If you owe more than 1.5 times your income and you have federal loans, you may want to join an income-driven repayment plan.
The goal with this strategy is to pay as little as possible so that you can maximize the amount of forgiveness that you receive at the end of your repayment period (20 to 25 years).
But you’ll want to make sure that you save up a little each year for the student loan forgiveness tax bomb.
Refinance your LECOM Pharmacy School student loans
If you owe less than 1.5 times your income, income-based repayment plans may not benefit you as much. Instead, refinancing into a lower interest rate could save you a lot of money.
If you have a good credit score, you could cut your interest rate by two or three percentage points and could save thousands of dollars in student loan interest. And many of the top refinancing lenders will give $350 to $750 cash bonuses if you use a Student Loan Planner referral links.
If you haven’t enrolled in LECOM Pharmacy School yet, you may want to schedule a pre-debt consult with one of Student Loan Planner’s certified consultants. They can help you decide whether LECOM would be worth the student debt.
And if you’ve already graduated from LECOM with student loans, a standard student debt consultation can help you find the best repayment plan. Book a consultation today.