The Financial Aid Application Process

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.
Father and daughter going over finances

Step 1: Complete the FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in applying for financial aid. Check to see the school’s requirements for FAFSA filing dates. Parental information may be required by medical schools for students who wish to be considered for institutional financial aid (aid given by the medical school) even though an applicant is considered independent for purposes of federal loans. Check with the medical school’s financial aid office to verify their requirements. 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 ID code on the FAFSA.

Step 2: Investigate Sources of Aid

Contact the financial aid office at your medical school to investigate available sources of financial aid. Be proactive; explore additional resources for scholarships and grants. You can begin by reviewing the Consumer and Federal Financial Aid Resources (see the Grants, Fellowships and Scholarships tab) and the Loan Repayment/Forgiveness Scholarship Programs database. If you need loans to cover additional expenses, consider borrowing federal student loans. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Direct PLUS Loan are federal loans. They typically have some of the best terms and conditions. Note: Applying for a loan requires a separate and different application from the FAFSA.

Step 3: Apply Early

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

Step 4: Receive and Reply to Your Award Letter

Once your FAFSA results are received and processed by your medical school’s financial aid office, you will receive an award letter indicating the types of financial aid and amounts for which you are eligible. Follow the directions for accepting or declining the aid. If you are accepting the aid, and it includes student loans, pay particular attention to the information about when your loan funds will be available to you.

You may also want to review the FIRST fact sheet, What is an Award Letter? for additional information.

Still Have Questions?

If you are still uncertain about the financial aid application process, or if you have questions related to the financial aid offered at a specific medical school, contact the financial aid office at that school. The financial aid office is always a source of information for you. FIRST’s Top 10 Questions Premeds Should Ask Medical School Financial Aid Officers fact sheet can also provide you with additional guidance and topics to think about.


  • You must re-apply each year for financial aid. Check with your medical school’s financial aid office about required forms and deadlines.

  • In order to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid, you must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Check the school’s requirements for SAP.

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