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Eyes on the Price: Managing Your Finances in Optometry School

As optometry students, we all have our eyes on one prize: to graduate and become outstanding protectors of vision. To that end, it may seem that we have to pay a hefty price. However, it is an investment in ourselves that can better the lives of our future patients. As we make this investment into a better-seeing world, let us look at some ways we can make or save money while in optometry school. 


Work Study:

This is a great way to make money on the side because most of them are on campus or at Ketchum Health, so you don’t have to commute far. Also, your work schedule is usually based on your school schedule, limiting scheduling conflicts. If interested, check the “Work Study/Student Employment” link under the “Financial Aid” tab on the portal for possible job openings. 



There are many scholarships offered by the school. However, last year’s application period was during midterms season so I didn’t have time to apply for them. Statistics show that you have zero chance of winning when you don’t apply; therefore, I didn’t get a scholarship. Please learn from my mistake and write a generic scholarship essay on your free time so all you have to do is revise it when application opens later this year. 


Health Professions Loan:

The advantage of this loan over other loans (i.e. Direct Unsubsidized Loan) is that it does not accrue interest until twelve months AFTER you leave MBKU. 


Meal Prep:

Meal prepping is advantageous to eating out because it tends to be a healthier and more time-efficient option. In addition, I found it to be more cost effective. My average expense doing groceries last year was about $30 per week, which afforded me with ten or more meals. In contrast, a fast food meal costs $6 on average, which would only give me five meals, if I were to have spent that same $30 I used on groceries. Therefore, meal prepping is a good money-saving alternative. Having said that though, you have to treat yourself to an all-you-can-eat Korean barbeque once in a while. It’s good for your soul! 


Phone Apps:

There are also some phone apps that I found helpful. One of them is Mint, which is a good budgeting app. This app allows you to see your recent spending, to set a budget for yourself, and tells you when you’re spending too much. Another app I use is Ibotta, which allows you to get cashback when you scan your receipt from the grocery store. Once you reach $20 cashback, you can withdraw the money. 


Free Resources:

“There is no such thing as a free lunch,” my economy teacher used to say. But at MBKU, there are “free” resources that you can take advantage of. For instance, each student receives $20 worth of free printing at the library for the school year. Also, there are a lot of free meals at the beginning of the school year, such as the Welcome Back Barbeque and the first meeting for many of the student organizations. 



Justin Ogoy

Optometric Intern

Class of 2022

Southern California College of Optometry 

Marshall B. Ketchum University

2575 Yorba Linda Blvd. | Fullerton, CA 92831-1699


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