Applying as a Veteran or Current Military Member

If you are an active duty member of the military, a reservist, or a veteran who is thinking of applying to medical school, there are resources and financial benefits to help you get a medical education.
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If you are an active duty member of the military, a reservist, or a veteran who is thinking of applying to medical school, you’re not alone. In 2014, 415 American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®) applicants selected “Veteran” for military status on their AMCAS application, and 174 applicants selected “Active Duty.” As a current or former member of the military, there are resources and financial benefits to help you get a medical education.

Can I apply while I’m deployed?

Yes. However, anyone under contractual obligation to the military, including active duty service members, reservists, and national guardsmen, must request permission to apply to medical school. You should contact the personnel command center of your branch of service to get instructions for obtaining approval. This is a crucial step that impacts your ability to attend medical school and should be done at least four months before initiating the AMCAS application.

When applying to schools using AMCAS, be sure to list an alternate contact person in the Biographic Information section of your application so that person may call the AMCAS Support Center for information about your application if you are unable to contact AMCAS yourself. If you do not list an alternate contact, AMCAS will not be able to release any information to anyone else but you. Be sure to check the policy or procedure regarding alternate contacts for any non-AMCAS schools prior to submitting those applications.

How can I highlight my military experience on medical school applications and in my interviews?

It’s a good idea to mention military scholarships you’ve received, mentoring involvement, work/study programs, and events/organizations in which you have participated. You also should list awards and commendations as these demonstrate leadership strengths and teamwork. If you’ve held medical or scientific assignments, be sure to list these in the Experiences section of the AMCAS application along with relevant courses, such as basic life support and CPR. When talking about your military experience in your personal statement or in your interviews, be sure to fully explain your military responsibilities. For example, do not just say “I was a Platoon Sargent” and assume that your interviewer is familiar with the skills and responsibilities involved. Instead, explain the role you played in detail and how it strengthened your leadership, communication, and/or other skills.

Can I complete prerequisite courses during deployment?

In many cases, medical schools will accept courses completed by active duty military outside of the country while deployed. To find out more information, see the AMCAS Instruction Manual (p. 51). You also should contact the medical schools you are interested in attending to discuss your specific circumstances and learn more about their policies.

Can I take the MCAT® Exam during deployment?

Yes. The MCAT Exam is offered in 16 countries outside of the United States. The full list of test sites is available on the MCAT website.

What benefits am I eligible for to help pay for medical school?

In addition to traditional sources of financial aid, as a current or former military member you may be eligible to receive funding for medical education expenses through one of several VA educational programs.

The following are brief eligibility descriptions for the various programs:

Post-9/11 GI Bill, (Chapter 33)

  • Must have 90 days of aggregate active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001, and
  • Still be on active duty, or
  • Be a veteran, honorably discharged with a service connected disability

Montgomery GI Bill, Active Duty (MGIB-AD/Chapter 30)

  • Must have at least two years of active duty service

Montgomery GI Bill, Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR/Chapter 1606)

  • Must be a member of the Selected Reserve, Army, or Air National Guard

Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP/Chapter 1607)

  • Must be a member of the Reserve components called or ordered to active duty in response to war or national emergency declared by the president

The benefit amount you receive will depend on the program that you are eligible for and the school you choose to attend. A maximum benefit payment for fulltime enrollment will depend on your school’s definition of full-time enrollment and your enrollment plans. You can review current payment rates for each program at VA Education Rate Tables. In addition, many programs offer reimbursement for the MCAT exam and some licensing fees.

Although you may be eligible for more than one of the VA educational programs, you can choose to receive funding through only one of them, so it is important to understand the program terms in order to make the right decision for you and your educational plan. It’s important to note that once chosen, your program decision cannot be altered. To help you make your decision, review the VA website’s chart comparing the programs and eligibility terms.

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?

If you are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you may be eligible for additional educational benefits through the Yellow Ribbon Program. By participating in the program, your school has committed to offering a certain number of eligible students a predetermined amount of funding each year that the VA will match. Check to see if your school participates at Yellow Ribbon Participating Schools.

Who can I talk to about veteran’s benefits?

Generally, most college campuses have an office or a staff member who is familiar with veteran’s benefits and can offer guidance and information about activating them. There also will be an office or individual at your medical school who is responsible for certifying eligibility for veteran’s benefits. They may be located in a veteran’s affairs office, student affairs office, or registrar’s office, depending on the school’s administrative structure. If you are still on active duty, you also can visit the education office on the military base where you are assigned to find out about additional benefits and opportunities.

For additional information, check out the VA Educational Benefits website. Also, be sure to contact the financial aid office or check the websites at the medical schools you’re considering attending to learn about their VA benefits.

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