June 24, 2013 Contact:
(800) 621-1773, ext. 8043
email@example.com Statement attributable to Ray E. Stowers, DO, president of the American Osteopathic Association, and Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
—Students across the nation will slip further into debt if Congress fails to avert a significant spike in interest rates for federal subsidized Stafford loans.
Federal Stafford loans are the most highly utilized, with approximately 37 million undergraduate, graduate, medical and other types of students relying on them to cover tuition costs. If lawmakers fail to take action, interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1, 2013, when the current interest rate cap is set to expire.
More than 21,000 students are enrolled at osteopathic medical schools, and more than 20% of new U.S. medical students are training to be osteopathic physicians (DOs). By 2019, that number is expected to grow to 25%.
Today’s osteopathic medical school graduates self-report an average medical educational debt of approximately $205,000. A loan interest rate increase will offer them little choice but to pursue higher-paying medical specialties to ensure they are able to pay back their debt instead of primary care areas of medicine that are already experiencing physician shortages. As our population continues to age and more people acquire health insurance under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, pushing medical graduates away from becoming primary care physicians jeopardizes patients’ access to care, putting the health of many Americans at risk, especially those living in rural and other medically underserved locations.
Currently, more than 50% of DOs in active practice specialize in one of the primary care areas of medicine, including family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology. Likewise, this year’s osteopathic match—the process that pairs graduating osteopathic medical students to internship and residency training programs—saw an 11% increase in graduates entering family medicine programs and a 9% increase in those entering internal medicine programs compared to the previous year.
Failure to avert the subsidized Stafford loan interest rate increase will not only hinder the osteopathic medical profession’s contribution to primary care, it will further increase the debt burden for medical students and for those entering into medical school. With just seven days until the current cap on subsidized Stafford loan interest rates expire, we urge Congress to act swiftly to avert the doubling of the interest rate and work to find long-term solutions to deter a larger student loan debt crisis as well as support proposals that allow undergraduate and graduate students to better afford their education.
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) represents the nation’s 29 colleges of osteopathic medicine at 37 locations in 28 states.AACOM was founded in 1898 to support and assist the nation's osteopathic medical schools, and to serve as a unifying voice for osteopathic medical education. AACOM’s mission is to promote excellence in osteopathic medical education, in research and in service, and to foster innovation and quality among osteopathic medical colleges to improve the health of the American public.For more information on colleges of osteopathic medicine and osteopathic medical education, visit www.aacom.org
About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 100,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.