Students enrolling in health professional programs should be prepared for a substantial financial commitment. Loans are generally the primary source of funding, with graduate debt averaging over $100,000. Check out these resources to learn more about possible sources of funding:

Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid Information about loans, scholarships, military aid programs, links to online aid applications, FAQs, a loan repayment calculator, and a financial aid contribution estimator.
Department of Education's Student Guide Information on federal student aid resources, the application process, eligibility requirements, and standard award amounts.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid Application used to determine eligibility for government funded financial aid.

Things to Consider

Budget

There are many costs associated with health professional programs in addition to tuition and fees. You will also need to pay for your health insurance, rent, transportation, utilities, books, food, etc. Some additional costs, such as child care, medical, and dental costs, are not covered by financial aid. Make sure to set aside savings or other resources available for emergencies.

Citizenship

Limited resources are available to non-U.S. citizens. Most federal sources of aid (and a significant portion of school-funded aid) are available only to U.S. citizens, nationals, permanent residents, and eligible non-citizens. Learn more about policies and resources for international students as health professional program applicants.

Sources of Funding

Loans

Federal
  • Stafford/Ford Loan Program: Students can borrow a maximum annual amount through the U.S. Department of Education. These monies are unsubsidized, thus interest begins accruing as soon as the loan is taken out.
  • Primary Care Loan: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers this need-based loan to medical students interested in primary care. Students who borrow through this program are required to complete a residency and practice in primary care until the loan is completely repaid. Participation in and eligibility requirements for this loan program vary from school to school.
  • Perkins Loan: A low-interest, federal subsidized loan, awarded by some schools to students who demonstrate financial need. Generally these funds are limited and are not offered to most students.
Institutional

Some schools have established endowed loan programs and offer loans to their students, often with terms more favorable than federal or private loans.

Private

These loans have higher interest rates and fees and less favorable repayment terms. You can take out private loans to cover costs associated with residency and relocation. Some private loan programs include:

  • MEDLOANS Alternative Loan Program (Sallie Mae)
  • CitiAssist (Citibank)
  • MedExcel (Nellie Mae)
  • Med Access (Access Group)
  • Educaid

Scholarships

Federal Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) are funded by the federal government and awarded by medical schools to students demonstrating significant financial need. Funds are generally very limited and eligibility for awards is based on school-established criteria.
Institutional Many schools award scholarships to students based on criteria such as merit or financial need. A large percentage of schools require you to submit parental financial information on your application in order to be considered for need-based scholarships.
External Scholarships

Utilize free scholarship search engines that are available online to find other opportunities offered by private groups. Be wary of services that cost money or guarantee scholarship awards. Some credible and free search engines are:

Service Repayment Programs

National Health Service Corps

The Public Health Service offers a competitive scholarship program designed for students committed to providing primary health care in underserved communities.

Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Programs The ArmyNavy, and Air Force will cover the tuition, living expenses, and other educational costs associated with medical school; the student repays this scholarship with service during school and after graduation. 

Resources by Health Profession

Dentistry

ADEA AADSAS Fee Assistance Program

ADEA GoDental Money Matters

Medicine

AAMC Fee Assistance Program
AAMC FIRST: Financial Information, Resources, Services, & Tools

AACOM Financial Aid and Scholarships

Occupational Therapy

OTCAS Fee Waivers

AOTA Financial Aid

Optometry

AOA Guide to Optometric Loans, Grants, & Scholarships

Pharmacy

PharmCAS Fee Waivers

AACP Financial Aid & Scholarships

Physical Therapy

PTCAS Fee Waivers

APTA Scholarships, Awards, & Grants

Physician Assistant

CASPA Fee Assistance Program

PAEA PA Focus: Paying for PA School

Veterinary Medicine

VMCAS Fee Reimbursement Program

AAVMC Funding Education

AVMA Getting Financial Assistance