Financing Medical School

Tuition and expenses for medical school have increased dramatically in the past decade.

Familiarize yourself early with the costs of medical school education and sources of financial aid. The actual process of applying for and securing financial aid, however, cannot be initiated until after you are accepted into a medical school. At that time, contact the financial aid offices at the medical school. Request complete, up-to-date information about estimated costs, including tuition, fees, supplies, microscope, and living costs, the types of financial assistance available and the application process. The Medical Professions Advisory Committee and the Center for Work and Service both have information on financial aid. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has created an outstanding site on financing medical school.

There are two major types of financial aid: scholarships, which do not have to be repaid, and loans, which must be repaid. The amount of loan money available, the interest rate, and the terms of repayment of loan programs differ and should be carefully evaluated.

Much of the financial aid loan money is supplied by the federal government directly to the medical school which, in turn, awards aid to medical students (e.g., Health Professions Student Loan Program). Other federal programs encourage banks and other private lending institutions to make loans to medical students (e.g., Health Education Assistance Loan Programs, Guaranteed Student Loan Programs).

There are also programs that finance medical school education in return for repayment in the form of service after the receipt of the M.D. degree; the most prominent of these is the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarships Program. When considering these programs, investigate them fully to understand the details of the contract before committing yourself. Many states have programs of financial assistance available to state residents. For information, contact the medical school financial aid offices or the State Department of Education.

Loans and scholarship funds are also available to medical students from a variety of philanthropic, civic, and medical organizations. In most cases application is made directly to the agency. Although these sources of financial aid are not administered by the medical schools, the applicant can obtain information about them from the medical school financial aid offices, or by writing directly to the agencies (e.g., American Medical Association, American Medical Women’s Association, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Medical Fellowships, Inc.).

Financial aid assistance is usually awarded on the basis of demonstrated need. Typically students must provide the same information required by undergraduate financial aid offices. Financial analysis generally requires the following information: amount of financial resources available, income and assets of parents (regardless of age, marital status, and prior independent status of applicants), and a proposed budget for the coming year.