Scholarships and Loans
Scholarships and grants offer funding that you do not have to repay, which translates to less money that you have to borrow. Eligibility may be dependent on your financial need, academic achievement, and/or affiliation with certain organizations or be contingent upon a service obligation. Start your research well in advance of your application to medical school to ensure that you identify scholarships that fit your needs and interests and can meet early application deadlines.
Also check online for scholarships. Web sites such as FastWeb(www.fastweb.com) and the U.S. Department of Education(www.ed.gov) contain scholarships databases that can help you find opportunities. Avoid companies or organizations that require a fee or make guarantees to help you identify a specific amount of money in scholarship aid. Other connections to pursue might include your local hospital or church, local businesses, and the government.
In addition to Web sites like FastWeb(www.fastweb.com) and the U.S. Department of Education(www.ed.gov), you may be able to find scholarships within your own community or through national organizations (like Shriners). Below are some suggestions for places to look for funds.
Contact local hospitals and ask to speak to a staff member in the human resources department about scholarship opportunities. Some hospitals and their foundations offer scholarships to medical students or financial aid in the form of tuition assistance in exchange for a specific number of years of employment after completion of residency.
Church/ Synagogue/ Temple
Many religious institutions, through personal endowments, have funds available for members to further their education. Contact your church’s business office to inquire about such resources and any eligibility requirements.
Local Businesses or Community Organizations
Check out organizations such as the Optimists(www.optimist.org), Lions Clubs(www.lionsclubs.org) or Shriners(www.shrinershq.org) because they may have scholarships or funding for students with your interests. Consider contacting local businesses as well.
Your Medical School
Check with the medical schools that you are applying to, including the school’s office of minority affairs, for scholarship possibilities. Request a financial aid packet from the medical school’s financial aid office and ask about scholarship opportunities that are unique to that school. Many medical schools, for example, offer financial assistance to academically competitive medical students who demonstrate severe financial hardship. Make arrangements for you and your family to speak directly to one of the school's financial aid officers about your situation and the options available to you.
Scholarships for Minority Students
National Medical Fellowships(www.nmfonline.org) (NMF) provides scholarships based on need, primarily to first and second-year medical students. NMF also provides merit-based awards.
Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarships(www.aamc.org) are awarded to students entering their third-year of medical school. According to the AAMC Web site, these scholarships are given to those "who assist medical schools achieve their diversity objectives and eliminate health care disparities."
Many students depend on federal government student loans to finance their education. Eligibility for government loans is based on your FAFSA(www.fafsa.ed.gov). Deadlines vary depending on the school and state but the federal deadline is usually June 30. Check with the financial aid offices of the schools to which you are applying for verification of application deadlines.
The financial aid office is required to inform you of their aid procedures and deadlines, and how and when you'll receive your aid award. You will be provided with an award package (based on your FAFSA information) that reports your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)(www.fafsa.ed.gov), your family’s eligibility for federal loans, and your status regarding the work-study program. It is important to read and understand your school’s academic progress policy and keep copies of all enrollment paperwork, especially loan documents that you receive.
Stafford Loans(studentaid.ed.gov) -- The Department of Education offers low interest rate loans to students. Subsidized loans are based on financial need. While in school and during the grace period, the government pays the interest on subsidized loans. Unsubsidized loans are available to all students regardless of financial need. You are charged interest on these loans while you attend school. You have the option of paying the interest as it accrues or postponing the interest payments until after you graduate, withdraw or drop below half-time enrollment. Students can borrow up to $8,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans each academic year. An additional $32,000 per year is available in unsubsidized Stafford loans. Both subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans have a fixed 6.8% interest rate for medical students.
Perkins Loans(www.ed.gov) -- A Federal Perkins Loan is a low-interest loan for both undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. It is provided with government funds, with a share contributed by the school. Depending on when you borrow, your level of need and the funding capabilities of your school, you may be able to obtain a Perkins Loan up to $6,000 per year with a 5% interest rate.