By Nicole McMillin, MPA, Director of Financial Aid, Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine; Member, AACOM Council of Student Financial Aid Administrators
It’s never too early to begin planning for your financial future. During AACOM’s recent Online Medical School Recruitment Fair, I had the opportunity to answer questions and share resources with prospective osteopathic medical students about their financial options as they consider applying to medical school and pursuing a career in the health professions.
Paying for Your Education
If you are a student on the path toward a career in the health professions, you’re probably wondering, “How will I pay for my education?”
Most students pay for their health professions education by securing federal or private student loans. Once students transition from undergraduate to graduate school, their federal loan limits increase significantly, which provides a way to cover the full cost of attendance for many students. As a graduate student, you are eligible to apply for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Graduate PLUS loans. Completing your FAFSA is your first step toward being considered for federal financial aid as a new medical or health professions student.
Debt Management Modules
Visiting studentaid.gov is helpful when researching types of loan funding. This site provides detailed information so that you can better understand your options and ultimately make the right decision for you. I also recommend utilizing AACOM’s 2019 Financial Aid Debt Management Modules—in particular modules one, two, and three, which provide helpful information for prospective students on borrowing considerations and repayment options, student loan and financial best practices, as well as advice on choosing between federal and private loan repayment and forgiveness programs.
Scholarship and Federal Work-Study Programs
Scholarship in exchange for service programs, such as the National Health Service Corps or the Health Professions Scholarship Program through the military, are additional options for health professions students to consider while attending school. Individual schools may offer scholarship opportunities ranging from as little as $500 to the full cost of attendance. Some schools will connect you with students currently enrolled in scholarship programs who are willing to share their experiences. Inquiring about this during the interview process is a great way to get more information. You can also check with your state’s osteopathic medical association for scholarship availability for in-state residents or spend time searching for other scholarship opportunities—many schools have a listing or resources on their websites.
Some schools also offer Federal Work-Study for health professions students. If you want to explore these opportunities, be sure to ask about them during your admissions process.
As Director of Financial Aid at Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine and a member of AACOM’s Council of Student Financial Aid Administrators, connecting with prospective students was a great opportunity! I recommend that everyone reading who is interested in pursuing a career in the health professions to start thinking ahead about financing your education. As a prospective health professions student, I know that you have many questions on your mind. Addressing your financial planning early on can only help you better prepare for your future, so I encourage you to invest now in your financial literacy. Remember that representatives at schools just like me are here to assist and we can help answer your financial aid related questions if and when you have them.
Once you become a health professions student, please also consider joining the ED to MED campaign to advocate for programs such as Grad PLUS to ensure that students who follow in your footsteps have the same options and opportunities tomorrow that you have today.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by AACOM.