I am trying to decide between medical schools. Should I choose a public school instead of a private school due to a lower cost of attendance?
While it is tempting to choose a school based on cost alone, the median debt of students is pretty similar across both public and private options ($215,000 compared to $200,000 for public students in 2019). You may be thinking, “Wait! I thought private schools were on average $80,000 more expensive when comparing cost of attendance.” While private schools have higher cost of attendance, they also often offer more scholarships and aid to their students, resulting in a comparable debt at graduation between public and private students. You are going to spend the next four years of your life at whatever school you pick, so choose the one you feel is the best fit for you! Cost should be only one factor and secondary to where you can see yourself thriving!
I was accepted to medical school and didn’t receive financial aid as part of my acceptance package. Does that mean I won’t get scholarships or financial aid?
No need to worry! Medical schools often give out their scholarships and financial aid differently than you may be used to for undergrad when it was part of your acceptance. Private medical schools often have scholarships and financial aid available to admitted students that you apply for after you begin medical school. However, public medical schools already have a lower cost of attendance and typically have less financial aid and scholarship money available to give out.
I am interested in applying for scholarships to help finance my education. Where do I look first?
The first step is to talk to the financial aid office at the medical school you plan to attend/are attending. Private schools especially often have donor scholarships and grants, need based scholarships, and even academic, leadership, and service scholarships for their students. Even if your medical school doesn’t have additional scholarships available, the financial aid coordinator at your school may know of local scholarships within the community or with the hospitals in the area that you would be eligible for. Reach out to the financial aid resources at your own medical school first and inquire about what scholarships are available to students, when you apply for these, and how often students receive scholarships from these opportunities as well as any additional local or hospital scholarships they may be aware of. Since you are not guaranteed any of the scholarships you apply to, you can also look at the AAMC’s reports to see the average debt of your medical school to better assess how that compares to the cost of attendance and decide what outside scholarships you should apply to and if you want to apply to a federal scholarship program with a commitment.