December 20, 2020

Breaking Down Financial Resources for Medical Students

Miscellaneous
Nishtha Sharma

Breaking Down Financial Resources for Medical Students

Medical school can be VERY expensive. While undergrad was pricey enough, paying for medical school comes with even more expenses. In this article, we will discuss budgeting tips and methods of financing your schooling.

Before we begin to understand how to pay for medical school, we must understand where our money will be going. I like to break it down in to these broad categories. You are welcome to add more, but these typically seem to meet the necessities of most medical students. Obviously, some students will have more financial obligations versus others, so these categories are tangible.

Tuition

Housing

Food/Groceries/Gas

Travel Expense

Entertainment

Textbooks/ Exam Fees

First, we should estimate the tuition expenses of our school and our approximate living costs. Typically, living cost varies in different cities, so it will not be the same for every student. After inputting values for each of these categories, we can estimate how much aid we will need for one year.

Once you have a rough idea of the total cost of attendance for one year, you should begin writing down your financial resources. I like to break up my financial resources into these three categories: personal funds, scholarships, and loans. Personal funds include the savings you or your family members will be contributing per year. Scholarships can come from your medical school or outside organizations. Loans include the financial aid you will be taking out from the federal government.

Surprisingly, there are a numerous amount of scholarship opportunities for people pursuing professional school. For medical students interested in serving their country, the Health Professions Scholarship Program offers to fund all four years of medical school along with a monthly stipend in exchange for a commitment to serving in the military.  Another service program is the National Health Service Corps Program. This program will fund all four years of medical school in exchange for your service in a rural/underserved town. Both AMA and AAMC offer many scholarships and grants for medical students as well.

Loans can be taken out privately or from the federal government. Most students take out federal loans by completing a FAFSA application on studentaid.gov. Federal loans for professional school consist of 1) Direct Unsubsidized Loans and/or 2) Direct PLUS Loans. To understand the difference between these types of loans, read this article. After you take out federal loans, you can become eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, once you have met their criteria/qualifications.

Lastly, it is important to remember to budget wisely. Living a lavish and elegant life in medical school should not be your priority. Prioritize maximizing your scholarship quantity and minimize your loan needs. This is the key to graduating with a smaller debt compared to your classmates. There is no harm in being a little frugal in medical school with your expenses. Always remember, you can reap the benefits of your good financial habits after you graduate. Good luck!

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