Ways of Paying for Medical School

Paying for medical school doesn't have to be costly, discover how to take advantage of medical school financial aid and find a medical school scholarship to avoid medical school debt.

Going into medicine can be extremely rewarding, but you should be aware that the average medical school student graduates with an average of $196,520 in medical school debt. You want to put yourself in a position where your debt load is much lower by planning ahead on how you will be paying for medical school.

The best thing you can do is become friends with the financial aid office because they can make a significant difference in your financial aid award to cover your medical school tuition.

Here is a listing of medical school tuition for non-residents.

Financial aid is a way to make up the difference between the actual cost of your education and what you can financially provide yourself.


Medical School Aid Types

Your goal is get as much financial aid for medical school that does not need to be paid back. This type of aid consists of grants for medical school and medical school scholarships.

Basically, you want to be paying for medical school with gifts. Your financial aid for medical school comes in three forms:

  • Need-based: an estimation of how much you can financially contribute towards your medical school Cost of Attendance.
  • Merit: because you are a stellar student academically.
  • Talent: because you excel in an area outside of academics.

Aid of the above three types can come from the federal government, your state government, the medical school, or a third party (e.g., foundations). As far as you're concerned, you want to know where and how can you come across this money to cover your medical school costs.

ADVICE: generally you should not have to pay money when conducting a scholarship search.

The best place to begin your search for medical school scholarships is within your own community. Even in out advanced technology age going to your local library may be necessary to review books which contain listings of scholarships for all types of students.

But if trekking to the library is not something you're willing to do, then be sure to research Internet databases that list sources of scholarships.

These searches may be inconvenient and sometimes flat out frustrating to conduct, but the benefits far outweigh the costs (no pun intended), when you consider how much you can be saving when it comes to financing your medical school education.


Medical School Loan

When paying for medical school, taking out a medical school loan should be a last resort.

Any type of student loan stays with you until it is paid off in full or you die. Out of all the debt which you may have, even after going through bankruptcy you will still be required to pay your medical school loan back.

Student loans allow you to borrow money to help pay for your education and they come in a number of forms.

You can take out loans based on need or non-need, with many of the sources for your medical school loan being the federal or state government, your medical school, or a third party.

The following distinction may seem very unappealing, but it will definitely affect your pocket book. Loans will fall into one of two categories:

  • Subsidized: do not accrue interest while you are in school, they save you money over time.
  • Unsubsidized: accrue interest while you're in school and thus are more costly.

Here are some important medical school loan terms that you should know.


Paying for Medical School With a Job

In undergrad you or one of your friends may have had a work-study job to offset the cost of paying for your college.

In these type of work-study programs your earnings are factored into your financial aid package. For instance, your financial aid package may stipulate you receive XYZ amount of dollars, but the only way you'll get that money is by working the equivalent of XYZ hours.

Medical school is extremely demanding and I find it very hard to fathom a student having a work-study job as a way of paying for medical school. Simply put, you're going to spend a lot time studying and working does not seem like the best type of financial aid for medical school.

Also, when you are expected to walk away with about $150,000 in medical school debt the few hours spent working will do very little to put a dent in this figure. Your time would be better spent studying in-order to become the best doctor possible.


Military and Full Medical School Scholarship

If you want to graduate from medical school with zero debt incurred and also receive a stipend while enrolled in medical school you should seriously consider applying to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences a.k.a. F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine.

By going to this medical school you are going to trade time for money.

Students who attend the Uniformed Services University are expected to serve in the military for seven years after their graduation, internship and residency are complete in exchange for having their entire cost of medical school covered.

Have you thought about attending the medical school of your choice and receiving a military scholarship?

This is a great option to have the military pay for your medical school education including all of your tuition, living expenses and possibly a monthly stipend too.

Going this route typically means that you will owe the military one year of active service for each year of support you receive. This active service time typically starts after you complete your residency. 

I have a few classmates who went the military route while in medical school and one benefit is because you're going to be a doctor you start off as a commissioned officer in the military so this means a higher rank and all the benefits associated with that. 

As you saw above the average debt of medical school graduates is nearly $200k and if you can commit to military life such as for years versus 10 to 20 years of paying off student loans is something that really cannot be beat and should be considered as a means of paying for medical school. 


Service Payback Programs

For some individuals going to the military may be an extreme way of paying for medical school, but there are alternatives.

You can commit to "serve" and organization/entity in exchange for that group to provide funding for your medical school education, mainly in the form of medical school scholarships.

Nationally, the U.S. Public Health Service offers the National Health Service Corps scholarship to medical students will commit to practicing primary care medicine in federally designated physician shortage areas for a predetermined period of time i.e., for their service payback.

Also many states will have their own service payback programs.