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Debt Management Counseling

Being pro-active about finances can help minimize stressors related to finances. Our debt management counseling program, Life $upport, was created to encourage students to establish good financial habits such as budgeting and checking credit regularly.  Most sessions include an active learning component to help students acquire the basic skills needed to develop these habits.  Explore the list below of required and optional sessions offered.


M4 Required Student Loan Exit Meetings (Three-Step Process)

Repaying loans can be stressful for someone who is not familiar with loan repayment options. To combat this issue, all students who borrowed federal student loans are required to complete a three-step student loan exit process through the FSM Life $upport program.

Step 1: Watch AAMC Student Loans and Repayment Strategies Video
Students will learn the terminology and become familiar with the basics regarding loan repayment. This foundation is critical to prepare students for the required one on one student loan meeting. Students can take an active role by logging into and uploading loan history to the AAMC Organizer/Calculator.  Having a copy of the AAMC Debt Manager Book is also useful. 

Step 2: One-on-One Loan Repayment Meeting
Students are required to meet one on one with Cynthia Gonzalez in AWOME to discuss their loan portfolio. Cynthia will provide sample repayment schedules based on actual debt. The goal of the session is for the student to fully understand their repayment options. This will allow students to build a strategy and set goals.  Appointment options will be posted soon.

Step 3: Online Counseling
In mid April, students will receive an email from the Northwestern University Office of Student Finance with an invitation and instructions regarding online counseling. This requirement should be complete by a specified date, typically in early May. During the online counseling, students will be required to choose a repayment plan. The plan selected can be changed. The goal is that students will be prepared to make this choice after completing the first two steps. Any questions or concerns about this should be discussed at the one-on-one meeting.

Other Required Sessions

Loan Basics (M1-Prior to Matriculation) *Watching this video is a requirement for all entering students receiving financial aid.  The goal of this session is to educate students about the terms and conditions of the loans that are being offered.  During the session, students are encouraged to login to to determine the name of the loan servicer assigned as well as login to servicers website to establish the relationship.

BYOB~Building Your Own Budget (M1-Prior to Matriculation)
*required for all entering students receiving financial aid. This is a one on one session. Students are asked to be prepared with their aid notification and a completed AAMC interactive budgeting worksheet. Resources and expenses are reviewed to determine if loan funds can be returned.  Schedule your meeting now.

Credit 101-Part 1 (M1 Winter)
This session will teach students the basics about credit. The goal of the session is to help students learn to make educated decisions about credit. During this session students pull their credit report for review.

Credit 101-Part 2 (M2 Fall)
The basics from Credit 101 will be reviewed. Ways to safeguard credit will also be covered. The session will end with students pulling their credit report for review. The goal is to encourage students to make this into a financial habit.

Preparing for the Cost of Residency (M3 Winter)
This session helps students budget and plan for the upcoming costs of what they can expect during the M4 year as they prepare of the residency application process.

Personal Finance Tips (M4 Spring)
This session is presented during the M4 Capstone which is required for all M4 students. During the session, students will be use interactive tools to help with budgeting, W-4 tax forms and credit.   


Students are also encouraged to attend the following sessions:

  • AAMC The Cost of Residency Interview Resources
    The Cost of Applying for Medical Residency AAMC Webinar (recorded)
  • Home Financing for Graduating Medical Students and Residents (M4-Winter)
    The AAMC has provided a recorded an informational video regarding buying a home.  Highlights include: determining a good time to buy and how much you can afford, renting versus buying and budgeting for a home. 
  • Financial Planning 101 (M4-Winter)
    A guest speaker from MEDIQUS Asset Advisors Inc. will share details about basic financial planning skills. Highlights include: building a financial plan, money management and retirement planning.  
  • Year-End Financial Aid Session (Spring)
    All students who have borrowed student loans are encouraged to attend the year-end financial aid session. At the end of this session, students will receive copies of their loan histories and projected debts at time of graduation. We’ll also review application steps to ensure your student loan funds arrive for the upcoming school year.