Borrowing for the First Time

Borrowing Needs May Change

While many medical school students borrow loans to finance their education, some students do not have to borrow each year of medical school.  Depending on your individual situation, the need for borrowing can change throughout medical school.

Just like yearly expenses change, your borrowing needs will likely change too. Your school and the financial aid staff have worked carefully to create a cost of attendance (COA) that, in most cases, limits excessive borrowing.

Your school’s published COA is likely the best and most accurate estimate of current costs. Your school’s COA can help you determine how much you will need to borrow for each year of medical school.

On a yearly basis, examine the COA to determine: 

  • What expenses you will need to cover.
  • How much you may need to borrow.
  • How you will spend what you borrow.

Look at all available aid options. Some schools may offer institutional loans. This means the school is the lender of the loan. These loans are not federal student loans; however, they may come with borrower benefits such as lower interest rates, subsidies, and/or possible postponement of payment or flexibility with repayment. Questions about institutional loans should be directed to your school’s financial aid staff.

Eligible schools may award Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) loans, which include Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS) and Primary Care Loans (PCL) for 3rd and 4th year medical students. Check with the financial aid staff at your school to see if these loans may be an option. If eligible, these loans will not be displayed in your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account.

If you are concerned about borrowing federal loans because of thinking about loan repayment, know that there are loan forgiveness programs and loan repayment assistance programs available from federal, state and, sometimes, county levels. Research and learn about these programs while you are in medical school. Be aware of what your options are regarding assistance programs as they can lighten the financial obligation of repaying what you may have borrowed.