Transitioning to Medical School
The Financial Information, Resources, Services, and Tools (FIRST) website can help you make a smooth, successful, and informed transition to medical school. This is probably one of the biggest financial and personal investments of your life. Utilize the resources available to make wise and knowledgeable decisions about your future.
Starting Off on the Right Foot
While you are attending medical school, one of the most important offices in your life will be your financial aid office. Financial aid may at times seem complicated, even if you had student loans as an undergraduate; however, the financial aid office is available to assist you when you have questions or concerns.
The amount you borrow in medical school may be a larger amount than what you borrowed as an undergraduate student, or even as a graduate student; however, don’t let loans intimidate you. Be mindful of the amount of money you borrow to cover your education expenses so that repayment will not be a surprise.
Keep in mind, you don't have to borrow the entire amount you are offered in your financial aid award letter. Instead, consider accepting and borrowing only what you need. If you do find that you borrow more than necessary, check with your financial aid office to see if you can return a portion of your loan. The less you borrow during medical school, the less you will have to pay back when you graduate from medical school.
Use Wise Money Management Skills
The FIRST program has valuable and practical tools to help with financial aid and money management subjects. Become familiar with the resources such as videos, tools, and fact sheets. These are all available on the FIRST website. The videos cover topics important to medical students like “The Economics of Becoming a Doctor,” Loan Forgiveness, and Loan Repayment Options.
The Medloans® Organizer and Calculator (MLOC), is a tool designed specifically for medical students to keep track of their loans and manage their loan repayment options.
Financial Aid Fact Sheets are one page documents that explain topics sometimes considered involved or confusing. Fact sheets that may be of particular interest to transitioning medical students include: The Financial Aid Application Process, Budgeting Ideas and Tips, Direct Loans 101, Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate/Professional Students, and the Interactive Budget Worksheet .
Talk to Your Advisors and Friends
You are not alone at this time or throughout your medical school program; many of your classmates are in the same financial situation. You can support each other by using and discussing resources that are available to you now and in the future.
If Possible, Start at Zero
One of the best things you can do prior to beginning medical school is pay down any debt you have on credit cards and/or undergraduate loans. If you can pay this debt off before starting medical school, that’s even better! The less debt you have when you start medical school, the less you will have to repay when you enter residency or practice.
Debt Management Tip: If you can't pay off all of your loans, try to pay down the loans with the highest interest rates first.