The medical school financial aid process is actually pretty simple, but for whatever reason they make it a little bit harder than it has to be. The most important thing to remember about the financial aid process, whether it is medical school or undergraduate school, is to GO TALK TO YOUR FINANCIAL AID COUNSELOR! Nine out of ten of them will bring you through the process step-by-step and answer any questions that you have. Just make sure to get a hold of their instructions and follow them to the letter. Many schools do things just a little bit differently and it is important to know exactly what they need you to do in the process.
Most people (hopefully all, see why) will borrow from the federal government for all of their student loan needs. In order to do this you need to apply for and receive a pin from the federal pin site. Once that is done, it is a one time thing so just keep it safe somewhere and use it every year after that.
Every year thereafter, your first step will be on the normal fafsa site where you will fill out the first step of the medical school financial aid process every year. You need your tax return from the year before for every year that you need to fill out the fafsa. You'll also need the correct school code which you can get from the school or look it up on the site as you are filling it out.
This will take care of stafford loans (Get more information on types of loans here), but likely not the loans above and beyond that. For the Grad PLUS loans, you will most likely need to go through the directly at the Direct PLUS loan site here. This application can be done more quickly with the same information you need above on the fafsa site.
Some schools don't go through the "direct" lending site for GRAD plus but rather go through individual banks in order to do it. This information you will get directly from your institution about which banks to use and what to do.
Private loans, or loans that are not through the federal government, I NEVER recommend. You MUST budget in order to not need to get private loans. Because of this, I'm not going to show you how to go about getting these loans. PLEASE JUST DON'T DO IT!
After you fill out all the required paperwork, you have to wait...and wait...and wait. You will get approved and contacted by your financial aid department. They will have a link for you to do entrance counseling and the MPN (master promissory note). The MPN has to be done yearly, while the entrance counselling is only done once.
Lastly, once you are done with school and done taking out loans, you will be required to do exit counselling for your loans. This is a one time thing and just makes sure that you understand that you will have to pay for your loans.
One of my top priorities with all the people I help get into medical school is to help them develop a plan for minimizing debt. Doing so can have amazing benefits. Medical school is no longer about just getting in wherever you can and working out the money later...now days the money and loans need to be planned before matriculation. Students are literally burying themselves borrowing too much in medical school, and it is a problem they may never get out from under. Read my article about this problem and how to create a basic plan of action to minimize it.
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