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Student Loans

Student Loans for Medical School in the Caribbean

Getting into medical school in the U.S. is difficult. For example, only 46% of applicants were accepted into medical school during the 2023 – 2024 school year. If you’re among the majority who weren’t accepted, one popular option is to attend medical school in the Caribbean.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to use student loans for medical school in the Caribbean. Caribbean medical schools can be just as expensive as American medical schools, if not more, so the opportunity to get a student loan appeals to many borrowers. 

Getting student loans to fund your medical studies in the Caribbean isn’t as straightforward as in the U.S. We’ll help you sort out how to fund your education. 

Can you use federal student loans for Caribbean medical school?

If you’re a U.S. citizen, you may be able to use federal student loans, even if you get your entire degree overseas.  

If you’re not a U.S. citizen, check with your government or the Caribbean medical school you’re interested in attending to see what financial aid you might be able to get. 

Here are the two main federal student loan types U.S. citizens might be able to use for an overseas medical degree:

Federal loan typeLoan limitsInterest rate
Direct Unsubsidized Loans$20,500 annually, $138,500 total6.54%
Direct PLUS Loans for GraduatesCost of attendance minus any other financial aid7.54%

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students, while Direct PLUS Loans for Graduates are reserved for advanced-degree seekers. Direct PLUS Loans also require a credit check for approval, while Direct Unsubsidized Loans do not.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Caribbean universities at which you, as a U.S. citizen, might be able to use your federal student loans include the following:

  • American University of Antigua
  • American University of the Caribbean
  • Medical University of the Americas
  • Ross University 
  • St. George’s University
  • St. Matthew’s University

Notice we’re couching our language—you can, you may be able to use federal student loans at a particular school. The final answer may change, but it’s easy to find out anytime. 

Before you make any final decisions, always check two places: the Student Aid website and your school’s medical program

International schools must follow certain guidelines annually to remain eligible for federal student loan money. If your school lapses, you won’t be able to use your federal student loans there. 

An international school is sometimes eligible to accept federal student loans—but its medical program isn’t. So it’s best to reach out to the school’s medical program to ensure it’s eligible to accept federal student loan money.

Can you use private student loans for Caribbean medical school?

If you’ve exhausted all your options for federal student loans, scholarships, and grants, private student loans for Caribbean medical school may help bridge the gap

It’s up to each private lender whether it allows you to use the funds for Caribbean medical school, so check with lenders you’re considering. If you’re unsure where to start, check out our list of the best medical school student loans.

Still, it’s always best to use federal student loans first.

Federal student loans come with a much longer list of borrower protections, such as student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans. You might not think you’ll need them now, but they may come in handy considering the limitations associated with medical school in the Caribbean, which we’ll delve into below. 

Should you take out student loans to attend medical school in the Caribbean?

So now you know you can take out student loans for medical school in the Caribbean if your lender and your school agree. But is it wise?

If you’re set on becoming a doctor, unable to attend school in the U.S., and can afford the potentially higher costs of a Caribbean medical education, it may be worth it. Caribbean medical schools have a higher acceptance rate than U.S. medical schools, and living and studying in the Caribbean as a local can be exciting. 

However, that’s where the main benefits end. Graduates of Caribbean medical schools may face the following: 

  • Higher dropout rates
  • A tougher time paying for school
  • Higher debt levels upon graduating
  • Lower residency matching rates

Here’s how American medical school students fare compared with American students who attended Caribbean medical schools:

On-time grad. ratesMatch ratesAvg. debt
American medical schools84%94%$200,000
American University of Antigua69%98%$267,958
Ross University School of Medicine16%97%$395,320
St. George’s University School of Medicine67%93%$355,801

It’s essential to research the school you want to attend. The Federal Trade Commission has recently cracked down on at least one Caribbean medical school (Saint James School of Medicine) for deceptive advertising in overstating its program statistics, including an inflated residency match rate

How to apply for student loans for Caribbean medical school

If you’re thinking about using funds to pay for Caribbean medical school, it’s important to consider how you’ll pay for school. 

Unlike your compatriots at American medical schools, you won’t have as much availability for student loans for medical school in the Caribbean. And of the available loans, it can take longer to line everything up in time.

Here’s how to apply for student loans if you’re attending a Caribbean medical school:

  1. Verify that your school participates in federal student loan programs: Check with your college’s medical school, not the general office. Some colleges participate in the federal student loan program but not for medical school. 
  2. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid: The FAFSA will guide you to how much federal student loan money or grants you have available. Do this as soon as possible—the earliest you can fill out the FAFSA is October 1 for the next school year. 
  3. Shop for private student loans: If you still have a balance left over on your account after you’ve exhausted your free financial aid and federal student loans, check your eligibility and interest rate with as many private student loan lenders as possible.
  4. Apply for a private student loan: Once you’ve found the loan with the best features and the lowest rate, go ahead and apply. In some cases, you may need a cosigner if you have poor or insufficient credit—two common scenarios for medical students.

In general, the process to apply for student loans for medical school in the Caribbean is the same as for an American medical school, except you’ll want to start the process as early as possible and verify your eligibility more carefully.