Making the Transition to Medical School

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You've taken the MCAT® exam, applied to medical school, received an acceptance (or two!), and finally decided which school you are going to attend. Now it's time to prepare to start medical school.

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The AAMC has a few tips to help make the process of transitioning to medical school a little smoother.


Withdraw applications from schools you will not be attending.

Notify the school(s) that you are not going to attend. Request that your application be withdrawn from their program to ensure that other applicants will have the ability to be considered.

Apply for financial aid.

If you haven’t already, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any necessary financial aid applications required by the school. Make sure to submit all materials by the required deadlines. The financial aid application(s) contains all your financial information and allows the school to determine your eligibility for aid.

Once your financial aid application(s) is processed, the school’s financial aid office will send you a financial aid offer notifying you of the aid for which you qualify. If you are not familiar with the types of aid available, review the resources on AAMC FIRST website for assistance. It’s always wise to be proactive and explore additional resources for scholarships and/or grants (aka “free money”) throughout your medical education.

Take care of your loans.

If you have any outstanding federal student loans from your undergraduate program, you can defer payment on those loans if you are attending medical school on at least a half-time basis. To request a deferment, contact your loan servicer(s), which can be found by visiting the Federal Student Aid website.

If you have private loans, you’ll need to contact the lender/servicer of those loans as well; however, they will not appear on the Federal Student Aid website. Instead, you will need to review your promissory note or your credit report for that specific information.

It’s important to keep in mind that during deferment, although no monthly payments are required, interest will continue to accrue on your loans. If you are able to, pay the interest on your loans while you’re in deferment so that you won’t pay more interest than necessary when you graduate from medical school.

Create a budget.

Budgeting and money management can be difficult for everyone, but as a busy medical student, you will want to have your finances in order and maintain a budget so that you will have less to worry about when you enter residency and eventually loan repayment. Careful budgeting ensures that you will only borrow what you need to finance your medical education, and it also helps to keep your spending under control. The financial steps you take now can make life easier in the future.

If you need help figuring out how to create a budget, check out FIRST’s budget worksheet. You may also want to talk to other medical students for helpful financial tips for making your first year of medical school a bit easier.

Get your credit in order.

Pull your credit report and take care of any adverse credit issues. Taking care of issues immediately is helpful, especially if you find that you need a credit-based loan at a later point in your medical education.

If you are working or have some money saved, pay off any recurring or outstanding debt, like credit cards. This type of debt will not be part of your medical school budget; therefore, the less debt you bring with you to medical school, the better.

Make wise financial choices.

Research your options for affordable living accommodations and consider a roommate to share the expenses and monthly rent. If you live close to campus, you may not need a car. You even might be able to save money by taking public transportation or riding your bike. If you do need a car, consider purchasing a used vehicle. It may fit into your student budget better than the expense of a new vehicle. Remember, the choices you make now have an impact on your financial well-being and making wise decisions helps you live within your means now and in the future.

Get a medical checkup.

Most institutions, if not all, will require proof of recent health immunizations and immunity to certain diseases prior to starting medical school. Your transition to medical school will be smoother if you take the time now to locate your childhood and adolescent health care records.

Enjoy your free time.

Visit with family and friends, travel, or participate in hobbies you may not have as much time for during medical school. Use this time as a chance to relax, reflect, and energize yourself for the years to come.

Ask for assistance.

Remember, there are a lot of professionals at the medical school who want you to succeed. Take full advantage of student services, tutoring, and other programs or services offered by the medical school to help you transition successfully.

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