Students enrolling in health professional programs should be prepared for the financial commitment. Loans are generally the primary source of funding, with graduate debt averaging slightly over $100,000. Here are some helpful websites to learn more about sources of funding:
- The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid: Popular website with 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 (such as Stafford/Ford and Perkins loans), 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. It may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the information schools will be requesting from you (and possibly your parents) in the application process.
- Paying For Medical School: AAMC guide for prospective and current medical students on financing their medical education.
Sources of Funding
Every program offers different financial aid options for their students. Tips:
- Research all options and financial aid procedures for programs of interest.
- Contact information for your financial aid officer can usually be found on the school's website or through the admissions office. Schedule an informal meeting with a financial aid officer to learn more about the school specific financial aid options.
- Submit your applications on time!
- Stafford/Ford Loan Program: Students can borrow up to $18,500 annually through the U.S. Department of Education. Up to $8,500 of these Stafford Loans can be subsidized (meaning no interest accrues on the loan while you are in school) and the remainder is unsubsidized (interest begins accruing immediately). You must qualify for the need-based Subsidized loan.
- 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.
Some schools have established endowed loan programs and offer loans to their students, often with terms more favorable than federal or private loans.
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)
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.
Many schools award scholarships to students based on criteria such as merit or financial need. Be aware that a large percentage of schools require you to submit your parents' financial information on your application in order to be considered for need-based 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:
- FastWeb Scholarship Search: Create a personal profile and search for scholarships that match your background.
- CollegeNET MACH 25: Search for scholarships using keywords, with no registration required.
- The National Health Service Corps offers competitive scholarships for motivated students willing to serve as primary care physicians in underserved communities in the United States.
Service Repayment Programs
These programs cover some or all of a student's medical school costs. In exchange for this funding, you repay the program with service after degree completion. These programs are an excellent option for some students, but application should be considered carefully as enrollment involves a significant commitment and can control choice of geographic location or practice area.
- 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 Program: The Army, Navy, 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.
Things to Consider
There are many costs associated with medical school 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. It is important to have savings or other resources available for emergencies.
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. Generally, non-citizens are considered eligible if they are in the U.S. for other than a temporary purpose. For more information on eligibility requirements, view the Citizenship Handbook. Some private loans will allow international students to borrow funds, often with a U.S.-citizen co-borrower. If you are an ineligible non-citizen, carefully consider your financing options when deciding to attend medical school.