The Financial Aid Application Process

December 27, 2023

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While the process of applying for financial aid varies by medical school, here are some universal steps to help you get started. Always check with the financial aid office at your medical school for specific instructions.

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Step 1: Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Completing the FAFSA is the first step in applying for financial aid. Check the school’s requirements for FAFSA filing dates.

As a medical school applicant, you are considered an independent student for federal student aid, and parental information is not needed on the FAFSA form. Parental financial information may be required by some medical schools for students who wish to be considered for institutional financial aid (aid granted by the medical school). Check with the medical school’s financial aid staff to verify their requirements, and if they request parental information, find out how they want you to submit that information. To ensure the results of your FAFSA are sent to the schools you are applying to be sure to list the medical school’s federal school code on the FAFSA. If you do not know the school code, you can search for it on the Federal Student Aid website.

Step 2: Investigate Sources of Aid

Contact the medical school’s financial aid staff and website to determine available sources of financial aid. Be proactive; explore additional resources for scholarships and grants. You can search for scholarships and grants in several places. Here are some FIRST resources to consider:

If you need loans to cover your costs, consider borrowing federal student loans. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Direct PLUS Loan (for graduate/professional students) are federal loans. These are both unsubsidized loans, meaning the borrower is responsible for the interest that accrues on the loans; however, they have some of the best terms and conditions. Note: Applying for a loan requires completing a Master Promissory Note (MPN). This is separate from the FAFSA.

Step 3: Apply for Aid – Know the Deadline

Obtain, read, complete, and submit applications on time, preferably early. Pay attention to deadlines – they are crucial! Occasionally, unexpected situations may arise that could delay your application. If you wait until the last minute to apply, you may not qualify simply because of a missed deadline.

Step 4: Receive Your Aid Offer

Once the school’s financial aid office staff receives and processes your FAFSA results, you will then receive an aid offer indicating the types and amounts of financial aid you are eligible to receive. Follow the directions for accepting or declining the aid. If you accept the aid offered, and it includes student loans, pay attention to the information about when your loan funds will be available to you, and plan accordingly.

For more information, review the FIRST fact sheet, Understanding Your Financial Aid Offer

Still Have Questions?

If you are uncertain about the financial aid application process, or if you have questions related to the aid offered, contact the school’s financial aid staff to discuss your questions. The staff and the school’s website are always great sources of information.

If you aren’t sure what questions to ask, review this FIRST’s article, Top 10 Questions Premeds Should Ask Medical School Financial Aid OfficersThis resource can provide you with additional guidance and possible topics for discussion with a school’s financial aid officer.

Items to Remember:
  • To receive aid each year, you must re-apply by completing the FAFSA on a yearly basis. Check with your medical school’s financial aid staff about any additional required forms and deadlines.
  • To maintain eligibility for federal financial aid, you must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Check the school’s requirements for SAP.
  • Continue to search for scholarships and grants each year.

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