After You Are Accepted to Medical School

It is never too late to start thinking about financing your medical education. While medical school is an expensive venture, it is also a major investment in your future. Medical students have opportunities to limit and reduce debt by pursuing scholarships, grants, loan repayment programs, and loans through the government. Listed below are suggestions of how to manage your debt once you are in medical school.

Set Up a Budget

It is important to understand the timing of your financial aid and key expenses to ensure that you avoid running short of money later in the year. Your school’s financial aid office can assist you in estimating the timing and costs of tuition, books/instruments and supplies, room and board, and frequently overlooked expenses, such as transportation and medical expenses. There are also student budget calculators(www.finaid.org) that can help you estimate costs.

Keep Costs Down

While it may be tempting to accept the full amount of loan assistance offered to you, it is better to borrow what you really need and do without some luxuries that you may have enjoyed while living at home. The key to successful medical student budgeting is buying only what you need and not what you want. Listed below are examples of steps you can take to save money.

  • Share expenses -- If at all possible, find a roommate and avoid unnecessary expenses by cutting back on splurge items like new furnishings, audio equipment and televisions.
  • Monitor your transportation costs -- Choose housing close to campus and use public transportation. If you have an older car that is reliable, resist the urge to trade it in for a newer model. Life without a car payment will save you money when trying to live within limited funds.
  • Resist the urge to shop -- If you must, focus on what you really need and try local thrift and consignment stores for quality clothing. Avoid using credit unless you can pay off the balance at the end of the month. You don’t want to use your financial aid to make credit card payments.

Avoid Bad Credit -- Know Your Score

In accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA), consumers can request a credit report every year from each each of the three consumer credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Visit AnnualCreditReport.com(www.annualcreditreport.com) to obtain your free credit report.

The FTC Web site(www.ftc.gov) offers information on maintaining good credit, while explaining the basics of credit and how it can work for you. It provides suggestions of what to look for when applying for credit cards, how to manage them, protecting your identity, and what to do if you get in over your head.

Terms to Know -- Some important word definitions that might be useful when dealing with financial aid.