Featured image from Student Loan Hero
Medical school is EXPENSIVE! According to the AAMC, the average 4-year cost of attending a public medical school is $250,222 and the cost of attending a private school is around $330,180!!!! Now, that is a lot of money. Money that most of us do not have.
Here is an example of the expenses associated with my school:
So, if you are a native resident and living with your parents, the total cost of medical school would be about $191, 893. If you were getting an apartment to live near campus the total cost would be $263,250.30. And…if you are a non-resident (assuming that you have no family here and would get an apartment), your total costs could be $338,762.30!!!!!!!!!
Out of all of the things that worried me about medical school, this was the one that gave me the most anxiety. I don’t know about y’all, but I do not want to be in debt. EVER! I went through undergrad debt-free due because of financial aid and scholarships and I was praying the same would happen for medical school. This was because every time I shadowed a doctor, the conversation would almost always turn into one about student debt and how the physicians were still in debt after all of these years. Have you ever met a physician who has paid off all of their student loans? I still have yet to find one. I knew there were full-ride scholarships available, but I did not have the grades, test scores, or personal achievements to deem me worthy of one.
Nonetheless, when I got accepted into medical school, I immediately asked my dean if there were scholarships available. However, based on my school’s response, I knew that this was an obstacle I was going to have to face on my own.
Finding the Scholarships
I searched far and wide for any types of medical school scholarships. It was not easy at all; most of the scholarships I found were catered to those going to college. Therefore, if you are reading this now and you are still in college, please apply for these scholarships even if you do not need them. You can save that money up to pay for medical school which I can personally attest to it being a huge advantage for me in paying for my first year of medical school.
Anyways, I struggled to find any scholarships I was eligible for. Some of them were ones that you had to do a lot of work for, with such a small award. I needed to go for the big ones if I did not want to be swarming in debt. Finally, after months of research, these are the ones that I found:
This “scholarship” covers the cost of medical school and other expenses. The reason why I put scholarships in quotations is one will essentially have to work for them in an underserved area after completing residency. You would also have to choose between five specialties within primary care: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry.
When I heard about this program, I was immediately hooked. I knew I was interested in primary care and working in underserved communities. So I can get school paid for?! Sign me up!!! It is pretty competitive but I knew that if I kept trying and applying, they would hopefully choose me as a recipient.
Paul and Daisy Soros Scholarship:
This is a major scholarship that gives you $90,000 if you are a child of immigrants and are going to graduate school. It is really competitive; almost 2,000 people apply and they chose around 20 people. You can apply before or when you get accepted to your graduate program, the first year in your specific program, or the second year.
If you look at the past winners, most of the recipients come from really prestigious schools like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc so it is pretty discouraging, if you ask me. I was still going to apply though because honestly who knows what is meant for any of us?
National Medical Fellowships:
NMF helps aspiring physicians from underrepresented backgrounds through scholarships and other programs. They sometimes collaborate with other organizations when giving out the awards. They have a lot of scholarships that one can apply for, so if you do not get one, there is still a chance you can get another one. I am sure I applied to around 10 of their scholarships.
This is a yearly scholarship that awards $10,000 to those pursuing a career in healthcare. It is a pretty simple application however it is competitive so be aware of that.
White Coat Investors:
WCI is a blog created by Dr. Jim Dahle who I think paid off his medical school loans. He does this yearly scholarship in which you could win up to $40,000! This year, it was evenly split amongst the winners so everyone got $20,000 but the application is really simple. All you would have to do is write an inspiring essay or one that is based on finance and if you get selected, that’s a huge reward!
A Continous Charity:
This is not really a scholarship but you still have to apply for it like you are getting a scholarship. This organization offers interest-free loans to Muslim students who are in graduate school. If you did not know, Islam actually prohibits Muslims from taking out loans with interest. Of course, many Muslims decide to take it out and it has honestly become a taboo topic. However, it’s still forbidden no matter how much one tries to find loopholes around the issue. This program can offer up to $20,000/yr (or even more) for your education so definitely check it out! The caveat is that you have to pay it off incrementally through some source of income via your own or your family’s.
There are many more that I have found throughout my search. Check out the resource tab on this website for more!
Applying for the Scholarships
Now that I had my list, I actually had to apply for the scholarships. This was the hardest part. I hate writing essays with a passion because I judge myself a lot when I write so there were some I did not even apply for! This is not good because you miss all the chances you do not take. I would list out the scholarships that would be due in chronological order and give myself at least a month for big scholarships and at least 2 weeks for smaller scholarships. Definitely find out if the application requires letters of recommendation. I would usually send out an email to my letter writers about 2 weeks-1 month in advance and tell them something along the lines of:
Asking them can be scary but honestly, just go for it. You would be surprised, none of the people I asked to be my letter writers for scholarships turned me down 🙂
The essay prompts are usually pretty vague and some are straightforward. I would recommend writing from your experiences, crafting a beautiful narrative out of it, and having someone read your essay. If your school has a writing center or a fellowship office, please reach out to them for help because the essay is the most important part of the scholarship application.
If the application requires additional information and/or needs someone from your school to sign off on something, please get that done ASAP. People are very busy therefore, you do not want to jeopardize your shot at getting this opportunity because you waited last minute to tell your school officials that you were applying.
And that is it. As you keep applying for more and more scholarships, it starts to get better and easier. You know what you need to do, what to write, who to contact etc. Also, because some of the prompts are similar, you can even reuse your old scholarship essays, which saves a lot of time.
Rejection is going to be your best friend on this journey to getting scholarship awards. Out of all of the major scholarships I applied for, I am extremely fortunate enough to have received two: the NHSC Scholarship and the NMF/Johnson and Johnson Program. I got accepted for NHSC after applying twice and I was pretty much at my last string when I was applying to the J&J scholarship. Before I got those, I would just cry when I received the rejection emails. I just wanted to achieve my goal and I did not know if it would be possible.
I felt alone because I did not know of any of my classmates who were doing what I was doing. Everyone was just focused on school, but I had the task of doing well in school and trying to get scholarships. But I tried to motivate myself along the way because, at the end of the day, I knew that it would be worth it.
Some people who I really enjoyed watching were Dave Ramsey and Anthony O’Neal. They have a podcast called Borrowed Future that I believe helped me to refocus on my goal.
I also liked watching Seun Speak’s zoom parties. She would invite medical students and physicians who paid off their debt and it was really inspiring how they managed to pay it off.
White Coat Investors also offered their book to all medical students in the country and so I recieved it and got to learn a little bit more about investment:
I would also tap into religious videos to re-motivate me when I felt down. It was truly a difficult time reaching a point in medical school where I felt content financially and I believe that only God was the one that helped me get to where I am today.
And that is all, everyone. This is one way you could get medical school paid off without a lot of financial consequences. It is scary knowing the costs behind it and the sacrifices that need to be made but honestly at the end of the day, getting those scholarships was worth it. If you need any help along the way in regards to getting it, do not hesistate to reach out to me. Thanks for reading and look out for my next blog on my medical school update!