Transitioning to Medical School
Research shows that applicants to medical school are focused on one thing—submitting applications and receiving acceptances to medical school. If you are reading this, we hope it means you’ve been successful. The FIRST for Medical Education Web site can help you make a smooth and informed transition to medical school. This is probably one of the biggest financial investments of your life and it’s crucial that you use your financial aid dollars wisely to make knowledgeable decisions about your financial future.
Starting Off on the Right Foot
One of the most important offices in your life for the next four years while you are attending medical school will be your financial aid office. Financial aid often can be very complicated, even if you had student loans as an undergraduate.
The amount borrowed in medical school is generally large—probably larger than you may have become accustomed to as an undergraduate or even as a graduate student. However, don’t let that intimidate you. Be respectful of the money you’ll be borrowing over the course of your education.
You don't have to borrow the entire amount offered to you in your financial aid award letter. Instead, consider accepting/borrowing only what you need. Your financial aid officer or advisor can provide guidance and point out some common financial pitfalls that other medical students have made in the past.
Learn Good Budgeting, Spending, and Debt Management Habits
The FIRST program has valuable and practical tools to help with budgeting and debt management. Become familiar with the resources and tools on the FIRST Web site. Listen to the podcasts, watch the videos, and familiarize yourself with the Medloans® Organizer and Calculator. These resources, designed specifically for medical students, will help you stay organized and up-to-date on financial topics.
Keeping track of your loans is very important, but it’s equally important that you live within your means. Learn how to create and stick to a budget with the help of FIRST. Our Web site contains many short, but concise, one page fact sheets explaining topics that may sometimes be considered complicated or confusing.
Talk to Your Advisors and Friends
You are not alone; many of your classmates are in the same situation. You can support each other by using and discussing the resources that are available to you now and throughout your medical education program.
Additionally, your financial aid officer can be a source of helpful information; so talk to them!
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’ll have to repay in interest and overall 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.
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Medloans® Organizer and Calculator
Organize and track your loans, then view sample repayment scenarios with the Medloans® Organizer & Calculator, the only Web tool of its kind developed for medical students.