How do I get Medical School Scholarships?

M. Walker

There are several types of medical school scholarships available to prospective students. Similar to undergraduate scholarships, there are both need-based and merit-based medical school scholarships, which range from subsidized and unsubsidized loans to grants. Additionally, there are several specialized scholarship programs available to medical students, including the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) with the armed forces, and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which pay for part or all of medical school tuition.

Scholarships may be awarded based on need, merit, or a personal affiliation.
Scholarships may be awarded based on need, merit, or a personal affiliation.

To receive need-based medical school scholarships, students should apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Since medical students are considered independent by the federal government, parental information is not required on the FAFSA if the student wishes to receive federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, but students can also receive Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) even though they are graduate students. If the student wishes to receive need-based loans from the individual medical school or if the student wishes to be considered for grants, parental information must be supplied. There are a few extenuating circumstances in which parental information is not required, such as legal emancipation or if the student is older than 30, but these circumstances are evaluated on an individual basis that varies with each medical school.

The majority of merit-based medical school scholarships are based on grade point average.
The majority of merit-based medical school scholarships are based on grade point average.

Merit-based medical school scholarships are also relatively common. The majority of merit scholarships are awarded based on grade point average (GPA), Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores, admissions essays, and interview scores. Often, students do not need to fill out additional application materials to be considered for a merit scholarship, but some schools do require additional materials for certain scholarships. Merit scholarships range from one-time grants to four-year grants of varying amounts. Students wishing to obtain an MD/PhD, who are sometimes called medical scientists, will often receive full scholarships to joint medical and graduate school programs.

The HPSP medical school scholarships with the Army, Navy, and Air Force will generally pay full tuition for a student in exchange for a commitment to serve in the armed forces. In addition to full tuition, students receive a signing bonus of $20,000 US Dollars (USD), plus a monthly stipend of $2,000 USD. Following the completion of medical school, students who received the scholarship are obligated to serve one year for each year spent in training with the scholarship.

Medical school scholarships with the NHSC can also cover full medical school tuition for students. The dollar amount of the scholarship varies according to the length of time spent in the program, as the program is a form of loan forgiveness. Students interested in this scholarship must make a commitment to pursue a primary care field, such as obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, or primary care. Additionally, students must also commit to practice in underserved areas, such as inner city areas or rural areas.

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