Financial Aid for Medical Billing Students
Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships
A career in medical billing involves working in a medical office where the main responsibility is handling all the medical billing for the company. Other responsibilities include maintaining patient medical records, preparing patient charts, scheduling appointments, and processing claims. With this job comes excellent attention to detail, basic office skills, and good training. Medical billing students can earn associate’s degrees, or bachelor’s degrees at a variety of colleges nationwide; however, if money is tight, financial aid will be needed. Although medical billing scholarships are scarce, medical billing students do have the option of receiving financial aid through a variety of federal programs, and possibly some state programs.
Federal and State Financial Aid Options
The majority of financial assistance for medical billing students typically comes in the form of federally-funded programs. The options include Federal work-study programs, Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans for Parents, the Perkins Loan, and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Some students may also qualify for state financial aid.
Here is a brief description of each federal financial aid option:
- Work-study—usually provided in the form of a part-time job on campus (or off campus) to help the students earn money to help pay for college expenses.
- Pell Grant—awarded to undergraduate students with great financial need.
- FSEOG—awards up to $4,000 to undergraduate students demonstrating great financial need.
- Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, and PLUS Loans for Parents—are low interest loans in which no interest is accumulated while enrolled and attending college.
Medical billing students who wish to be considered for aid must complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
The FAFSA is reviewed to determine federal financial aid awards, and then it is sent automatically for state review. Keep in mind that although the national FAFSA deadline is fixed, schools and states often have their own FAFSA deadlines in order to ensure proper processing of all paperwork.
Scholarships for Medical Billing Students
Besides federal programs, there are some scholarships available to medical billing students. Most colleges offer general scholarships for students to consider. These awards are typically merit- and/or need-based scholarships available through the financial aid office. Other scholarships can be found off campus. These awards are usually administered by a national organization which encourages students to earn degrees in a variety of medical fields, including medical billing and coding.
AHIMA Foundation offers merit scholarships to outstanding students who are enrolled in academic programs endorsed by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIM).
Some colleges offer tuition payment plans to help medical billing students pay for their tuition in increments. Payment plans offered typically require students to make half payments twice a year, instead of one lump sum.
There is also a number of loan forgiveness programs available to students majoring in Health Information Technology and related fields. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, they offer a program for students enrolled at a CAHIIM/AHIMA accredited institution. The loan forgiveness program offers $5,000 to a qualifying student in exchange for working one year as a coding specialist at Partners Health Care. Applicants must go through an interviewing process to be considered.
Tips for Financial Aid for Medical Billing Students
- Fill out the FAFSA as early as possible, so you can be considered for the number of federal and state programs available to medical billing students.
- Note your deadlines! Especially the FAFSA deadline. Federal and state financial aid deadlines typically differ.
- To find possible departmental scholarships, medical billing may fall under another main department at some institutions, such as health services administration.
- Use the Internet. When seeking outside scholarships, keep in mind, this area of study is often found under medical billing and coding, since both careers go hand-in-hand.
- Consider loan forgiveness programs to help reduce loans, and gain experience.
- Loans are good choices if you’ve exhausted all other options since they have to be repaid. Use them sparingly and only as a last resort.
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