Financial aid for medical school is a much more straightforward process than that
of undergraduate education, Schutts said.
“There are only three federal funds available—Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Direct Graduate PLUS Loan and Work-Study,” he explained. “A student can complete all of the paperwork necessary to cover their
needs in an hour or two if truly necessary.”
- Medical students have access to federal loans, scholarships and work-study opportunities
to cover their education costs.
- Applying for financial aid involves completing the FAFSA as a first step.
- Medical students can choose between federal and private loans, with federal loans
being more accessible and private loans potentially offering better rates.
- Medical students face unique financial burdens including rotations, exams, and application
- A frugal approach during school can reduce debt.
The first step in the process is completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) which will be available in December prior to the start of the academic year for which
the student is applying for aid.
“I usually recommend students that are particularly energetic to focus it toward applying
for third-party scholarships,” Schutts said. “The federal funds are always available if eligible. Further institutional scholarships commonly are endowed, so schools many times match the scholarship with the student
without much of an application process.”
At PCOM, the Office of Financial Aid provides a self-service option which routinely
notifies students of any outstanding requirements.
For scholarships, Schutts said, the Office of Admissions identifies students who match the criteria of endowed scholarships. For those, no
application or inquiry is needed because the process is automatic.
Loans are a bit more complicated.
“Most students do go the federal route,” Schutts said. “The FAFSA will find if they
are eligible for federal funds and will allow the Direct Unsubsidized Loan to be available.
A Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a separate application to help bridge the gap between
what a student has in aid to what they need to be a student.”
These loans do require a credit check, but are generally more attainable than a private
loan and most of the time, students will not need a cosigner.
Completing a MPN (Master Promissory Note) for both loans as well as entrance counseling is required.
“Submitting five items would complete the whole process for the year and resubmitting
the FAFSA and the Grad PLUS App each year would complete the process for the whole
program,” Schutts added.
For private loans, Schutts advises students to look at more than the interest rate.
Private loans may offer a better interest rate since the rate is not tied to treasury
bills, but the applicant may need a cosigner and/or a secure support system for when
they graduate as a more aggressive repayment plan is common.
Work-Study, according to Schutts, can be a source of supplemental income but the majority
of funding will be through loans or scholarships.
“Usually, that means that a student sets [loans and scholarships] up to cover their
needs and work-study can be for ‘walking around money’,” Schutts explained. “That
way, if there is a particularly hard exam looming, a student won’t have the additional
worry about working enough hours to cover necessities. Your job first and foremost
is to be a student.”