Financing physical therapy doctoral education: methods used by entry-level students and the financial impact after graduation

J Allied Health. 2011 Winter;40(4):169-73.


With the move to the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree and increasing tuition costs, there is concern about financing entry-level education. The purposes of this study were to identify how students finance their DPT education and to describe the financial impact after graduation.

Methods: A written survey was used to collect data on financing DPT education, student debt, and the financial impact on graduates. There were 92 subjects who had graduated from one program. Frequencies as well as nonparametric statistics using cross-tabulations and chi-squared statistics were calculated.

Results: The response rate was 55%. Of the respondents, 86% had student loans, 66% worked during school, 57% received some family assistance, and 21% had some scholarship support. The amount of monthly loan repayment was not statistically related to the ability to save for a house, the ability to obtain a loan for a house or car, or the decision to have children. Saving for the future (p = 0.016) and lifestyle choices (p = 0.035) were related to the amount of monthly loan repayment.

Discussion: Major sources of funding were student loans, employment income, and/or family assistance. Respondent's ability to save for the future and lifestyle choices were negatively impacted when loan debt increased. Physical therapist education programs should consider offering debt planning and counseling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Education, Graduate / economics*
  • Education, Graduate / trends
  • Employment / economics
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal / methods
  • Financing, Personal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapists / economics
  • Physical Therapists / education*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Training Support / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult