Paying for Medical School

Doctors hold a special place in the mind of Americans. They’ve always been revered as givers, as people who spend their days helping the sick and the injured back to full health. Look at how many of our TV shows revolve around doctors from all eras of our history-from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman to ER. Is there a nobler calling than that of a physician? It would be hard to think of one. If you’re considering going to medical school, you’ve made an excellent choice.

Med school can be grueling, and after graduation you’ve got an even more grueling residency, but they’re worth it. The vast majority of practicing physicians wouldn’t trade professions with anybody. Of course, one of the biggest considerations in attending med school, besides the length and the study involved, is the cost. You’ll need a medical school loan to pay for it. Tuition at public medical schools is approaching $20,000 a year on average; at private schools it’s more like $35,000 a year. Paying that kind of money without a medical school loan is completely out of the question for just about everybody.

The government understands that, and to encourage people to attend medical school, they’ve made available hundreds of millions dollars in loans. What are some of the programs that are available? The best known program is the Stafford loan. You may have taken out a Stafford loan to get your bachelor’s degree. But did you know you can also take advantage of them to pay for medical school? It’s true. Medical students may borrow up to $138,500 under the Stafford program, minus any undergraduate loans. With the low interest rates and long payback terms, Stafford’s are an excellent source of medical school loans.

Another excellent loan program is sponsored by the American Medical Association. It’s called the Alternative Loan Program, or ALP. With ALP, a student may borrow up to $220,000 over the course of their medical education. The annual limit is the cost of school attendance, minus any other financial aid received. ALP loans are also low interest with long payback periods. The US Department of Health and Human Services offers a medical school loan as well. Called the Primary Care Loan, it’s available to students who agree to serve as primary care physicians for a period of time after graduation, until the loan is paid off. It’s an excellent choice if you’re not planning on practicing specialized medicine.

In addition to all these loan programs, the federal government, many state governments, and more and more medical schools are offering loan forgiveness programs. If you’re willing to practice in a critical needs area of the country that’s presently underserved by health professionals, its’ quite possible you wouldn’t even have to pay back your medical school loan at all. Check with the financial aid office of your school about the this program. With all these resources, there’s no financial obstacles in the way of anyone attending medical school who wants to.