How to Find and Secure Scholarships for Medical School

This guide will help you find what scholarships are available for medical school, and the best ways to secure them!

If you’ve always dreamed of making a difference in the health of your community, perhaps you’ve considered attending medical school. One of the biggest barriers students face in order to realize that dream is the high cost of attending medical school, which regardless if you attend a public or private school, is still in the tens of thousands of dollars. Don’t think that you can’t attend medical school due to the high cost! Did you know that there are a great deal of medical school scholarships available that could help fund your education? That’s right, that’s money for school that you won’t have to pay back!

If you want to know more about how you can find scholarships for medical school, keep reading because in this article we’re going to talk about:

  • Medical school scholarships
  • How to secure medical school scholarships
  • Types of medical school scholarships you should apply to

Medical School Scholarships

An overview of medical school scholarships and why they’re important

Make sure you’re aware of the kinds of medical school scholarships available. Image courtesy of Ross University School of Medicine.

Some people just know they want to become a doctor or a surgeon, while others discover their calling later in life. Regardless of how you decide that attending medical school is right for you, it’s a decision that will be sure to have repercussions on your future. After applying to medical school, you’ll next need to decide how to pay for it--whether with loans, grants, or scholarships. After attending college, you’re probably already familiar with the FAFSA and the CSS profile, which are used by students to find sources of federal and non-federal financial aid. While there isn’t an equivalent of these programs for medical schools, there are still plenty of scholarship opportunities out there to help you pay for the high cost of school.

In order to attend a medical school, you’ll typically need to have graduated from a four year college or university with a degree. This means that by continuing your education, you’ll also need to continue to pay for it! Scholarships are a great resource for those students looking to offset the cost of medical school, and not add to their undergraduate debt. Remember, scholarships are money that you don’t need to repay, unlike loans! Institutions, organizations, and the government understand that no one should feel that their dreams of becoming a doctor are out of reach just because of the cost of medical school, which is why there are many opportunities to get a scholarship to help pay for your expenses.

How to Secure Medical School Scholarships

A few things to keep in mind when applying for medical school scholarships

There are a variety of places where you can secure a scholarship for medical school. Image courtesy of American Osteopathic Association.

So now you know how helpful scholarships for medical school can be, it’s time to learn where you can start your search--and start securing some scholarships! Keep in mind that scholarship amounts can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to full tuition. Apply to as many scholarships that you are qualified for, and don’t forget the smaller ones because they definitely add up. Here are a few places to consider when starting you medical school scholarship search:

  • Look online. This is the best way to begin your medical school scholarship search, as sites like FastWeb and the U.S. Department of Education have databases full of potential scholarships that you might qualify for. You can enter your details and search through all kinds of scholarships where you might meet the criteria.
  • Search locally. While there are many opportunities available for medical school scholarships nationally, don’t forget to try locally as well. While these scholarships might not be in extremely large amounts, they all offer you the opportunity to attend medical school with less out of pocket cost. Try contacting your state or city government and see what kinds of scholarships are available for continuing your education. You might also want to check out your local hospitals, who may offer financial assistance in return for a few years of service after medical school (more on that later).

Local businesses and non-profits also typically have funds for students looking for scholarships in the community, which is another place you can find additional scholarships to apply for.

  • Inquire at your medical school. Make inquiries at the school you’re planning to attend, as their financial aid office might have some opportunities that are specific to that medical school. If you’re a competitive student, there could be financial aid scholarship opportunities available to you.
  • Minority scholarships. If you are a part of a minority category, don’t forget to look for these kinds of medical school scholarships!
  • Consider primary care. If you’re interested in pursuing family medicine, there are a variety of scholarship opportunities. Doctors who enter primary care as opposed to pursuing a specialty typically make less over the course of their career. Scholarships for those students willing to enter primary care in medical school are available and may cover a large portion of the cost of school.

There are all kinds of places to pursue medical school scholarships to reduce your out of pocket expense. When you are ready to apply, make sure to be aware of deadlines and get your applications in early. Keep in mind that many scholarship opportunities are competitive, so it’s a good idea to apply for a couple, as long as you meet the qualifications.

Types of Medical School Scholarships

What kinds of medical school scholarships are available?

Apply to a variety of scholarships, you’ll never know what you might get! Image courtesy of Med School Coach.

If you’re ready to start applying to medical school scholarships, make sure to start off using the resources we listed above. There are all kinds of scholarships (both large and small) that are available to students who qualify.  Let's learn a little bit more about the kinds of medical school scholarships you can apply to.

Tuition Free Medical Schools

Before we delve into scholarships, did you know there is a way to attend medical school tuition free? That’s right, if you choose to enter the military and attend a federally funded medical school that is a part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, you can attend medical school tuition free. There are other opportunities to get a fully funded medical school education from places such as the Case Western Reserve, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and Kaiser Permanente’s Bernard J. Tyson’s School of Medicine if you meet their entrance qualifications and can secure a scholarship.

Federal and National Scholarships

If you’re looking for opportunities to fund your medical school education, consider the full scholarships offered by the federal government to students who promise to become primary care doctors in underserved communities. That’s right, there are federal scholarships available that will pay for medical school in exchange for service where there is a shortage of healthcare professionals. The National Health Service Corps will provide a scholarship in exchange for one year of work (for each year you have the scholarship) in an underserved urban, rual, or tribal community.

Service Commitment Scholarships

Another great way to have your medical school expenses covered is to apply for and get a scholarship to the Health Professions Scholarship Program provided by the military. In exchange for military service as a physician, the program will cover the expenses of medical school. Once the military service commitment is complete, you will not have the debt of other students from medical school, and you will have hands-on experience working in your chosen speciality.

Medical Schools

Don’t forget to contact the medical school you’re attending to see what kinds of scholarships are available from their endowments. Schools also have funding available for those students looking to pursue a speciality that align with the interest of the school. Schools themselves can also offer service commitment scholarships, where students will agree to pursue medical paths that have a shortage of participants. By choosing a field that does not pay as highly, you can offset this by not having large amounts of student debt due to a scholarship.

When applying for medical school scholarships, remember no amount is too small--all those scholarships can add up and help you pay for your education. If you want to graduate with as little debt as possible, consider applying for a service commitment scholarship. You will have your tuition (and sometimes expenses) covered for your time in medical school. Afterwards, you can either serve as a military physician, or work with an underserved community. These are great ways to ensure you’re graduating without the high amounts of debt that can come with medical school. So what are you waiting for, get out there and start applying!

Main image courtesy of US News.

Bridget Houlihan
Bridget is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA.
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