Being a doctor is a tremendous honor and privilege because it is personally fulfilling and intellectually challenging at the same time. Thousands of students attend medical school with high aspirations, but many of them also end up getting into over $100,000 in student loan debt.
Student loan debt is not inevitable, but it does take a lot of planning and strategy to avoid the debt trap, especially for medical school students.
Attending medical school is a privilege that comes only after you have completed an undergraduate degree, which usually requires some student loans in the process. Unlike other professions, you are not finished with your studies after college because you must spend an additional 4 years at medical school and then complete even more training for certain specialties.
Medical schools typically cost around $40K-$50K per year and they usually offer very little financial support for students unless they are able to obtain a scholarship or grant of some sort. Students that choose rare specialties have an advantage because they tend to award a lot of grant money to those types of areas.
Female, minority students, and students from disadvantaged backgrounds also have an edge because they tend to be underrepresented in medical schools all of the country, so there are usually a number of programs that are designed to increase their enrollment and provide funding.
It is possible to finance your medical school education with grants and scholarships, but you must plan everything in advance and realize that all of these programs are very competitive. Here are some options for medical students looking for grants.
Grants for medical students are slightly different from those offered to other students. Many of the grants available to medical school students will be research grants, fellowships, or scholarships to fund their education.
Research grants are only there to fund certain types of research projects during medical school. However, there are other grants that are available to some students even if they are not completing a research project. Medical students that are in need of funding should also consider fellowships, scholarships, and loan forgiveness programs as well.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) offers grants to medical students that are interested in pursuing careers in clinical and biomedical research. This program is offered at over 45 universities across the country and it has roughly 933 students in the program.
The program is designed for students to complete a combined MD-PhD program and it offers a lot of flexibility in terms of majors because it includes behavioral sciences, epidemiology, public health, bioengineering, bioethics, and biostatistics.
The NIGMS program provides funding for up 6 years and the grant includes a stipend, tuition allowances, and even some funding to cover the cost of travel and supplies. All of the funding that they provide is completely free and there is no obligation to pay them back for any reason.
Anyone can apply for the program as long as they are US citizens, residents, or legal aliens and they are attending one of the institutions that they are present in.
The program is rather selective and most of the successful applicants are top students with at least a 3.0 GPA, strong test scores on the MCAT, and excellent peer and teacher recommendations. Students interested in applying to the program must contact the NIGMS office on their campus to receive an application.
The American Medical Association (AMA) offers a number of grants, scholarships, and fellowships for students of different backgrounds. The AMA is a national association that is devoted to research and education efforts for medical students all over the country.
The programs are all very different depending on the student, but there are special programs for females and minorities that provide some funding. Some examples include the Minority Scholars Program, the Arthur N. Wilson Scholarship, and the Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship.
Unlike many of the other programs, the AMA actually does not post any applications on its website because all students must be nominated by the chapter located at their respective institutions.
The Ford Foundation is a prestigious nonprofit organization that provides funding for many different causes, but they also offer a fellowship program.
The fellowship program is actually available to all students that are pursuing PhD programs, so this could include medical students that are pursuing a PhD in a medical field to pursue a career in medical research or teaching as well.
Literally all students can apply regardless of gender, race, class, etc., students are expected to have a strong academic background and must have a commitment to research and teaching.
Students will typically receive around $20,000 to $40,000 depending on the program. It is a very selective program and students should provide a transcript, test scores (MCAT or GRE), and recommendations. The application is available online through their website.
The Roothbert Fund is a small volunteer-based organization in New York City that provides grants and scholarships to all students regardless of their race, class, gender, or major.
The program is open to any student attending an accredited institution, so medical students are more than welcome to apply. Applicants should have a strong academic background with good grades, test scores, and recommendations, but they also have a preference towards students that are engaged in the community and participate in some type of religious studies.
The Roothbert Fund provides grants of roughly $2,000-$3,000 depending on the amount of funding available that year, so it is only supplemental in nature. Applicants must complete the application on their website and submit transcripts, test scores, and recommendations. The application is available on their website.
The Leopold Schepp Foundation provides grants and scholarships to students in a number of programs, including medical school. Medical school students are eligible to apply to their program to receive up to $8,500.
Students must be enrolled at an accredited US institution, they must have the financial need for the funds, and they must have a strong academic background with at least a 3.2 GPA. Interested students can find the application on their website.
The New York Academy of Medicine offers grants to medical students attending a medical school in the New York Metro area. This includes institutions such Columbia University and New York University.
Students will receive about $4,000 in total, so $3,500 is the stipend to help them pay for their expenses and they will receive an additional $500 to support the research laboratory at their university.
Medical students that are in their first or second year of medical school may apply to the program. The student will be expected to complete a research project and present their findings. It is a competitive program, so students are expected to have excellent grades, test scores, and recommendations. Students can obtain the application online at their website.
The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) offers the Research Medical Student Grant, which is available to students that are members of the RSNA. Students will receive $3,000 from the organization and the sponsoring radiology department must put up another $3,000 to become a total of $6,000 to be a stipend for the student.
Students can use the stipend to help support themselves through medical school, but they must pursue a relevant research project as well through the radiology department.
All potential applicants must be a member of the RSNA, so they must pay dues to the organization to be considered and they must be attending an accredited medical school in the US. The application is available on their website and it can be completed online.
The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) is an organization that is present on the campuses of many medical schools. The AMWA offers local branch grants to selected female medical students that are a member of their group. Each AMWA chapter offers 4 grants of $250 per semester to its members.
All applicants must already be a member of the AMWA and they must submit an application. Membership in the AMWA does require the payment of some membership dues, so it will cost some money if the student is not already a member. The application is available on their website and it requires the submission of a transcript and recommendations as well.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has a Selected Professions Fellowship for women to pursue education in fields where women have been traditionally underrepresented. All applicants must be US citizens or residents and they must attend an accredited US institution.
The Selected Professions Fellowship includes a number of fields such as architecture, engineering, computer sciences, and mathematics, but it actually extends to business, law, and medicine for female students of color. This means that females that are African American, Hispanic, or Native American are eligible to use the fellowship to cover the costs of medical school.
The program typically provides grants of $5,000-$18,000 depending on the needs of the student and the amount of funding available. The program only provides funding for 3rd- and 4th-year medical school students, so it cannot cover the cost of their studies completely.
The AAUW has their application available online, but students must register on their website and complete an eligibility quiz before they can gain full access to the application. The application also requires recommendations and transcripts.
The Daughters of the American Revolution offers a couple of different grant and scholarship programs to female members of the organization.
The Alice W. Rooke Scholarship program offers between $5,000-$20,000 depending on the amount of funding available that year. This program is designed to provide funding for students that have been accepted to an accredited medical school.
All applicants must already be members of the DAR organization and they must complete an application, submit transcripts and recommendations. Their application is available on their website.
The American Indian Graduate Center, Inc. (AIGC) offers numerous grants, fellowships and scholarships to students that are of American Indian or Native Alaskan descent. For medical students in particular, they offer the Gerald Peet Fellowship to eligible students that are attending medical school.
All applicants must be of Native Alaskan or Native American descent and they must be a full-time student and have financial need. The fellowship usually offers between $1,000-$5,000 depending on the amount of funding they have available as well as the amount of funding that the student needs. Interested students must complete the AIGC application, which is available on their website.
The Latino Medical Students Association offers a scholarship to Latino students that are attending medical school in the US. All applicants must be of Latino descent, meaning that they can be of any ethnicity from the Latin and Hispanic culture, and they must be attending an accredited US medical school.
Applicants should have a strong financial need for the scholarship and a desire to serve the Latino community, which should be evidenced by their extensive community service record. Applicants should have an excellent academic record, community service, and a financial need. The application forms are available on their website.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute offers the Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study to students pursuing the medical sciences. It is designed for students that are from disadvantaged backgrounds or students from underrepresented minority groups to complete a PhD in a medical science field like biomedical sciences.
Students are able to complete their PhD at any accredited medical institution. The fellowship covers up to $46,500, but it is only able to cover the costs of a PhD program for up to 5 years.
Students that are completing an MD and PhD at the same time are eligible to apply, but the program will still only cover the costs of the PhD. There is no citizenship requirement for students that apply, but all applicants must have been participants in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program.
Students must submit a completed application, transcript, recommendations, and test scores (MCAT or GRE) to apply. Students can find the application on their website on their website.
The Japanese Medical Society of America (JMSA) offers numerous grants and scholarships to students of Japanese descent. All of their programs are only open to those of Japanese descent and they require a good academic background as well as a strong interest in supporting the Japanese community.
Applicants must submit an application, transcripts, and recommendation in order to apply. Their application is available online on their website.
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) offers a number of scholarships, grants, and fellowships to African American students attending universities all over the country. Applicants must be of African American descent and have strong academics in order to be considered for funding.
There are different programs for different types of majors, but the fellowship and the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative both provide grants for students studying science and medicine. All applicants must submit a completed application, transcripts, test scores, and recommendations to be considered. The application materials are available on their website.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is designed to give students a chance to receive the Federal Pell Grant and the amount varies depending on the financial background of the applicant.
The Pell Grant is free to apply for and all colleges and universities encourage students to apply for it first before they do anything else because it provides the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
The EFC is an amount that many colleges and universities use to determine what other types of institutional aid that may be eligible for and it can also provide access to Federal Student Loans and Federal Work Study programs. Typically, the Pell grants will only amount to $5,550 at the maximum depending on the student’s finances.
Anyone can complete a FAFSA and it is entirely free even if you do not qualify for the Pell Grant. Applications are available online or you can complete a paper application as well.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is available to undergraduate students that are in need of funding to attend college. This grant can be used at virtually any institution and it includes all majors, so pre-med, biology, and chemistry students are welcome to apply.
The FSEOG is only for students that exceptional need, meaning that they have one of the lowest EFCs. All students that receive this must be considered low-income or disadvantaged. They will usually provide up to $100-$4,000 depending on the needs of the student and the amount of funding available.
Anyone can apply to receive this grant, but they must apply for it through their FAFSA application. The results of the FAFSA application will automatically determine if they are eligible to receive the FSEOG.