For most medical students, the financial aid letter is one of the most important letters you will be receiving, next to the acceptance letter. How could you attend medical school if you cannot pay for it?
If you or your family has enough money to pay for everything, you can forget about the whole section regarding medical school loans. If you are like most people, and do not have enough money to cover the whole medical school tuition, you will need to borrow. In that case, you will want to read this section closely.
If You Must Borrow, Borrow from the Government
Loans offered by the government are the best. You will need to go through your medical school’s financial aid office to get those loans. I have listed the government loans in order from best to worst.
- Primary Care Loan
- Perkins Loan
- Subsidized Stafford Loan
- Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
- Graduate Plus (Grad Plus) Loan
Make sure you really understand the unsubsidized Stafford Loan, because the bulk of your money will most likely come from there.
You Must File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The main item you must do if you want government loans is filing the FAFSA. There are other items to complete such as an Entrance Counseling session and a Master Promissory Note, but you school should provide instructions on how to complete that.
Before filing the FAFSA, make sure you have filed your tax return. Lots of the information required will be on that tax return.
You will also have the option of including you parent’s information in FAFSA. As a graduate (medical) student, you are considered independent from your parents. So you do not need to include their information unless you are interested in the Primary Care Loan. Personally, I included my parents’ information since it does not hurt.
Tiny Tip for Finishing FAFSA Fast
I will offer one tiny tip to speed up the process the next time you file the FAFSA: save a copy of the application. Next year, if much of the required information are roughly the same, you can just copy the data over.
All this is just from my own experience.
If you have questions that I did not answer, consult your medical school financial aid office for more details.
This article is part of the Medical School Loans series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about borrowing money smartly.