I'm more than a decade older and feel that mathmatically I have a greater urgency to finish up pre-req's/undergrad work faster than most. Thus there are days when I wish I could quit working, borrow money and attend school full time.
I also lived the "credit cards, new cars with new car loans and a 100% mortgaged house American dream" many years ago.
Despite the intense time pressure I feel, I still haven't taken a class I can't pay cash for up front, still work 3 jobs and haven't shorted the family financially at all. Time yes, but no dollars yet.
My thought is if I can really get myself in a position to make an application and get accepted I'll quit and do the loan things, but not until it is much more certain that I am actually going to be a physician.
The issue of overwhelming debt is an issue close to me personally. I remember paying late fees on credit cards for the 21% interest I owed on what was probably a night out 5 years earlier. What craziness! What hubris on my part! I discovered that the borrower is truly slave to the lender.
With that all said, I believe that I will have to borrow as much as $150,000 for medical school should I be so fortunate to attend. I will be able to do that because of the work we did to become debt free. We own our home, our vehicles, etc without loans, and we have saved enough to live on for four years plus some extra for tuition. I always encourage others to aspire to a the debt free goal first. It lends so much flexibility to the choices that will be coming for (hopefully) all of us. I really feel for those people who have to juggle the grades, the family time, the academic pressure and then have to worry about money on top of all that!
With you having your undergrad done, but worrying about debt, what does a MPH give you? If you aren't going to med school for two years wouldn't spending two years with your family becoming debt free make med school easier in 2014?
Good luck with your choices!