Financing Your Education

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 (FAFSA) Application used to determine eligibility for government funded financial aid.

Things to Consider


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.


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.


If you have debt, either from credit cards or loans (educational, automobile, etc.), aim to pay off as much of this debt as possible before you begin law school. You will likely pay more in interest if you defer payments while you are in school. Many options exist for loan repayment to fit each individual's situation. Try starting with the Personal Finance advising and resources offered by UVA's Student Financial Services.

Credit Score

Most federal aid for law school will depend on your current credit status and having bad credit can affect your ability to access funding for school.

Sources of Funding


  • 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.

Be sure to submit your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) the year prior to when you hope to attend health professional school!


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)
  • Educaid


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.

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.

In some cases, you may need to submit financial aid (scholarship/grant) applications to each individual school to which you've applied either during the application process or upon acceptance. Be sure to check each school for the appropriate process!

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. 
Private Health Systems/Hospitals 

Some private health systems and hospitals (typically in underserved areas or specialties) will offer medical professionals financial incentives (i.e., signing bonuses or tuition reimbursements) as part of their hiring packages. 

Other State- and Federal-Based Programs Some states and federal agencies offer loan repayment/forgiveness, scholarship, or other programs for medical professionals. Try starting with the AAMC's database, which includes programs for medical and other health professional students and providers. 

Resources by Health Profession


ADEA AADSAS Fee Assistance Program

ADEA GoDental Money Matters


AAMC Fee Assistance Program

AAMC FIRST: Financial Information, Resources, Services, & Tools

AACOM Financial Aid and Scholarships

UVA Paige Pre-Medical Fund
Established to defray the high cost of applying to medical school

Occupational Therapy

OTCAS Fee Waivers

AOTA Financial Aid


AOA Guide to Optometric Loans, Grants, & Scholarships


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

More to Explore

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