Scholarships & Financial Aid for Medical Students
Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships
Planning for medical school can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sure how you will afford it. As a medical student, however, you do have options. Most medical schools offer you some scholarships and grants usually based on academic achievements, and/or financial need. You can also seek outside scholarships and awards to help pay for medical school expenses. And, finally, medical schools always offer student loans.
Medical School Financial Aid Options
You do have other options before settling for medical loans. First, you must complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. The application information will help determine your financial aid need and award.
If you demonstrate a financial need, the federal work-study program is available to you, as well as grants and scholarships, both within the university and outside the university. It is up to you to seek these opportunities by speaking to your medical school financial aid office. However, you are responsible for finding and applying for any outside awards. If you are awarded an outside scholarship, be sure to report it to the school financial aid office.
The Federal College Work-Study program gives you the opportunity to work while attending school. Money earned helps pay for medical school expenses. Work-study is need-based aid and typically hires you for a part-time on-campus job.
There are also some federal scholarship programs you can inquire about: Exceptional Financial Need Scholarship and the Financial Assistance for Disadvantaged Health Professions Students Scholarship.
Most medical schools offer grants and scholarships on an academic basis. At Mayo Medical School, for instance, you can apply for the Mayo Medical School Tuition Scholarship—which pays for your medical school tuition; or the Mayo Medical School Need-Based Grant Funds, which grants varying amounts based on your need. These grant funds are made possible by generous donors strictly for Mayo medical students.
At Wayne State University’s School of Medicine, you can be awarded the Alumni Scholar Endowment Fund if you are a full-time, first-year medical student. This is a merit-based endowment that can be renewed.
You can also seek outside scholarships and awards. There are many medical organizations, corporations, and endowments set up specifically for medical school expenses. To search for outside awards, start with organizations like the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA offers a variety of scholarships and awards. Here are a few:
Minority Scholar Award —this is a $10,000 scholarship awarded to first or second year medical students from an underrepresented group in the medical profession.
Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarships —if you are a fourth year medical student with an excellent academic record and a financial need, you may be eligible for this $10,000 scholarship.
Seed Grant Research Program —specifically awarded for a variety of research. Award amount is $2,500.
Other organizations which may offer medical school scholarships and/or grants include the National Health Services Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program, honor societies, and the military. Be sure to research as many as possible to get the best rewards.
Medical School Loan Options
Out of all your financial aid options, you can expect to pay for medical school predominantly by student loans. Yes, student loans. There are many medical school loan options available.
The most common federally-funded medical school loans are the Perkins Loan, the Stafford Loans, and the Graduate PLUS Loan. The fixed interest rates for these loans are: Perkins Loan—5%; Stafford Loans—6.8%; and, the Graduate PLUS Loan—8.5%. To be considered for any federal loans to help pay for medical school, you are required to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can submit a FAFSA anytime after January 1. And, yes, you need to reapply each year to be considered for federal financial aid.
Other medical school loan options include:
Health Professions Loan —for podiatric medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, and veterinary medicine fields only. You must be a full-time student who demonstrates a high financial need to apply for this loan.
Loans for Disadvantaged Students —eligible disciplines include dentistry, pharmacy, podiatric medicine, veterinary medicine, allopathic medicine, optometry, and osteopathic medicine. You must be financially needy and from a disadvantaged background to apply for this loan.
Primary Care Loans—typically awarded in your third and fourth year of medical school.
Most medical school loans are processed through the university in which you are attending medical school.
Private Loans—are your responsibility. When you seek private lenders, be mindful that their rates are typically higher than federal loans, so do your homework before deciding on a lender. Private loans should be used as a last resort.
Key Points for Graduate Financial Aid
- Complete a FAFSA to be considered for medical school financial aid. Be sure to apply anytime after January 1. The sooner you apply the better. Be prepared and have all pertinent materials in front of you when completing the application online.
- Seek a variety of scholarships and grant funds from within your school and outside your school to get the best possible rewards. Start with the obvious—medical associations, medical groups, and other health-related organizations when seeking outside awards.
- Before seeking alternative loans, be sure to exhaust all federal loan possibilities. Private lenders should only be sought as a last resort.
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