Use the AAMC’s FIRST (Financial Information, Resources, Services, and Tools) program, which can help you learn about options for financing your medical education.
- Start by learning about the costs of applying to medical school. The FIRST program provides a wealth of information including fact sheets, videos, and webinars.
- Apply to the AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program. If you qualify, the program may be able to help cover some of the application expenses (MCAT, MSAR®, AMCAS®) associated with medical school.
Applying for federal aid as a medical student will be similar to applying for aid as an undergraduate, but there will be some differences.
- Learn about the financial aid process. Visit medical schools’ financial aid websites to learn about their requirements and deadlines regarding applying for aid, as well as the types of aid available.
- Listen and learn from others who have already experienced the financial aid process. Be sure to review the resources available on the Federal Student Aid website and realize that while federal aid may be available at most schools, availability of institutional aid (grants, loans, and scholarships) can vary.
- Begin searching and continue searching for scholarships and grants. Utilize the AAMC’s Loan Repayment/Forgiveness/Scholarship database. Check with medical schools’ financial aid offices and inquire with community organizations or businesses with which you may be affiliated.
Taking out federal loans to finance a medical education is common. Be prepared, know how the loans work, and borrow wisely.
- Most medical students borrow federal loans — Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans. Interest will accrue on these loans and an origination fee is charged to borrow them; however, payment is not required while in medical school. Learn more about these programs with this FIRST fact sheet.
- Primary Care Loans and Loans for Disadvantaged Students are federal loans; however, not all schools qualify to participate in these programs.
- Institutional (or school-based) loans will not be available at every medical school. Many times, these loans offer favorable benefits for borrowers, such as being subsidized while in medical school or possibly providing longer grace or deferment periods.
- Private loans are different than federal loans. If you choose to borrow a private loan, understand how the loan works, and especially pay attention to what repayment options exist during undergraduate study and/or medical school.
Maintain awareness of your undergraduate loans while in medical school.
- If you are taking time off between your undergraduate education and medical education, be sure to take the necessary steps to manage your undergraduate school loans. When you enter medical school, you will be able to defer payment on your federal loans with an in-school deferment if you are enrolled at least half-time.
- Private loans (as well as institutional loans from your undergraduate program) will not appear on the Federal Student Aid website and will likely have different repayment terms than federal loans. To obtain details about any private loans borrowed, you will need to review your promissory note, contact your school’s financial aid office, or review your credit report.
Learn to budget and be financially savvy.
- Start budgeting now and continue budgeting throughout medical school! Use the AAMC’s Financial Wellness program and the budgeting ideas, tips, and tools available from FIRST.
- Reduce and eliminate outstanding credit card (and other) debt so you can focus exclusively on managing your upcoming medical school expenses.
- Maintain a good credit score.
Talk with your prehealth advisor, mentors, and medical school financial aid staff.
- If you don’t have one, the Find an Advisor tool from the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions can help you connect with a volunteer advisor for free.
- Review the article, “Top 10 Questions Premeds Should Ask Medical School Financial Aid Officers,” to ignite the financial aid conversation with medical school financial aid staff.