Medical school is the goal of many young students, but it is quite expensive, both emotionally and monetarily. While you study, your high school friends may be working hard and playing harder. You may miss out on things that are important to you.
Medical school is certainly a big step on the way to starting a rewarding career in medicine. It will take schooling and determination to make it all the way. You will also have to begin thinking ahead of time, how to pay for medical school.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to Medical School?
The average annual tuition plus fees at public medical schools in the United States in 2013-2014 was more than $31,000 for in-state students and over $55,000 for out of state students. At private schools, the rates were even higher. What’s more, these amounts don’t include housing, living expenses or health insurance, according to US News & World Report. These are the most recent statistics available.
It’s easy to let the costs dishearten you, but there are various scholarships, grants and loans that can make it possible for you to determine how to afford a medical degree, if you have the grades for it. Some are based on merit and some on need, while others require a commitment to serve a certain number of months or years in the field, after you graduate.
Scholarships, Grants, and Loans
Scholarships and grants can be won from the federal government, as well as from the medical schools themselves. Some of these opportunities were set up as a way to help students decide which ways they can afford tuition for medical school if they plan to practice in the primary care field, or if they will agree to practice for a period of time in under-served areas, after they graduate.
Some of the Federal Service programs available include the National Health Service Corps and the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship. Minority students may qualify for scholarships from the National Medical Fellowships.
Federal loans for students include the Perkins loan, the Stafford Loan and the PLUS loan. Alternate programs that are not affiliated with the government, such as private student loans, are available, as well.
How to Apply for Financial Aid
Like other students who need financial aid, those attending medical school should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is required in order to be in contention for financial aid from the federal government. When thinking about ways to finance medical school, you will find that the government is the largest single source of tuition assistance.
Some medical schools may also require that you complete their own forms too, and provide documentation of need. Be sure to submit all your paperwork in a timely manner, so that you can be considered for all financial aid types available.
Speak with financial aid advisors at the medical schools you are looking into attending. They will provide you with more information about what you or your parents need to fill out so that you can get financial aid on the school level.
The numbers seem daunting, but there is a wide variety of financial aid sources available to help you in your determination of how to afford medical school tuition and fees.
Financing your Medical School Education
When you are in the process of submitting applications for medical school, take the time to investigate potential financial funding, as well. This may begin with an honest, open conversation with your immediate family to see if they are able or willing to help you in financing your education. Borrowing money tax-free from your family will save you thousands of dollars in interest.
Calculate the Assistance You Need
There are many web-based calculators you can use to determine the expected contribution of your family and the extent of their help when you are looking into affording medical school tuition. Once you calculate this, you can speak with advisors at the financial aid offices, so that they can estimate any need-based award for which you may qualify. This is especially important if you are deciding among several schools.
Don’t Be Afraid to Work with Financial Aid Officers
The financial aid available from each school is influenced by many factors. They include institutional priorities, alumni giving and endowment. Review the financial aid websites of medical schools you are considering and speak with officers at their financial aid offices to learn how much help you may be able to expect.
This idea comes from the percentage of students who attend each collage and receive financial aid. The advisors will know how many students received scholarships, grants and loans, and the averages of need-based scholarships awarded each year. They will also know the cumulative debt for the year’s graduating class, and the best ways to teach you how to pay for medical school.
Seek Out Scholarships
You can apply to many private scholarships to help in funding your medical education. These range from $500 into the thousands of dollars. If you are willing to serve your country in under-served areas or in the military, this will open more options in scholarships for you.
Online search engines are a quick way to weed out scholarships for which you don’t qualify, so that you can turn your attention only to those that may benefit you. These are valuable tools in determining the amount of medical school tuition you can afford. You can enter in many individual filters, to get the most accurate results.
Become Smart About Loans
In 2015, the average medical school graduate left campus with $183,000 in student loan debt. All loans aren’t the same, and lower monthly payments don’t mean lower costs overall. Consider the fees and interest involved with each loan. These include interest rates, processing fees, the accrual of interest while you’re in school, add-on fees, deferment options, payment plans and other important factors. Use online tools to help you compare long-term costs and monthly payments among lenders.
Service loan repayment programs, which require clinical research or patient care in underserved US areas, are another option into which you may look. If you’re willing to work in a specific area for two years or more after you graduate, these programs will repay some of your student debt, which helps you choose how to pay for medical school.
Studying to become a doctor is a rigorous, long and very expensive road. If you research all of your options carefully, understand them and seek out guidance from officers in financial aid offices, you will be prepared to make the best decisions for your financial future.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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