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Guide to Scholarships for Medical School

Guide to Scholarships for Medical School
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated October 12, 2022
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Scholarships for medical school reduce the amount of money you might need to borrow when studying medicine. Unlike loans, medical school scholarships typically don’t need to be repaid. Scholarships for medical students are financial aid that can cover the cost of tuition and fees.Universities may offer medical school scholarships based on financial need. Private companies and nonprofits may offer medical schools scholarships based on merit or financial need. Below we highlight how scholarships may differ from grants and student loans.

What Are Scholarships?

Scholarships are financial aid awards for students that typically don’t need to be repaid. You may ask, “Can you get a scholarship for medical school?” The answer is yes, students who meet the eligibility requirements may receive scholarships for medical school.

Scholarships vs Grants

Scholarships and grants are forms of financial aid that typically don’t need to be repaid. Schools, private companies, and nonprofit organizations may offer scholarships to help students pay for the cost of college. Medical schools scholarships, in particular, are free money that promote medical education.The federal government, states, and school associations may offer grants based on financial need. Medical school students may have more opportunities to apply for scholarships than grants, because graduate school students are not eligible for Federal Pell Grants.Students typically don’t have to repay scholarships or grants. In some cases, however, students may have to repay part of a grant or scholarship if they failed to honor the terms and conditions of the financial aid.

Scholarships vs Student Loans

Borrowers are expected to repay student loans, but students are typically not expected to repay scholarships. Education loans put borrowers in debt, whereas scholarships typically don’t need to be repaid with interest.Scholarships and student loans can both include terms and conditions in exchange for funding. Violating the terms of a scholarship or student loan can have financial consequences.Students with bad credit may have a hard time qualifying for Direct PLUS Loans or private student loans for medical school. Scholarships can be based on merit or financial need, and scholarships for medical students may still be available to those with bad credit or no credit.

1. TYLENOL® Future Care Scholarship

The TYLENOL Future Care Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship of up to $10,000 for graduate students enrolled in a medical school, nursing, or pharmacy program.Eligibility criteria: Graduate students enrolled in a medical school, nursing, or pharmacy program with one or more years of school remaining as a resident of a U.S. state, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico are eligible.Application deadline: June.

2. OppU Achievers Scholarship

The OppU Achievers Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship of $2,500 awarded to students four times a year. It recognizes students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement.Eligibility criteria: High school seniors, undergraduates, and graduate students.Application deadline: Quarterly.

3. Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarship

The Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship of $5,000 awarded to medical school students who lead efforts to eliminate societal inequities in medicine.Eligibility criteria: Students entering third year of an accredited U.S.-based medical school as citizens, lawful permanent residents, or individuals granted deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status are eligible.Application deadline: April.

4. Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA) Scholarships

FEEA awards merit-based scholarships of up to $7,500 to civilian federal government employees or their close family members who attend or plan to attend college, including medical school.Eligibility criteria: Civilian federal workers with at least three years of federal government employment or their spouses or children who attend or plan to attend college are eligible.Application deadline: March.

5. Endowment for South Asian Students of Indian Descent (ESASID) Scholarship

The Endowment for South Asian Students of Indian Descent Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship of $5,000 for qualified medical students of South Asian Indian descent.Eligibility criteria: U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents of South Asian Indian descent attending a Pennsylvania-based medical school as a resident of Pennsylvania or New Jersey are eligible.Application deadline: Sept. 30.

6. Women in Medicine (WIM) Leadership Scholarships

WIM offers merit-based Leadership Scholarships of $5,000 to female allopathic, osteopathic, or naturopathic medical school students in the United States or Canada who identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ community.Eligibility criteria: Allopathic, osteopathic, or naturopathic medical school female students in the United States or Canada who serve as leaders of the LGBTQ community are eligible.Application deadline: March.

7. National Italian American Foundation Scholarships

The National Italian American Foundation offers a variety of NIAF scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $12,000, and medical school students may be eligible for certain merit-based awards.Eligibility criteria: U.S. citizens or permanent residents of Italian American ancestry holding active NIAF membership and attending an accredited institution of higher education are eligible.Application deadline: March.

8. Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Scholarships

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund offers scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 to undergraduate and graduate students of Hispanic heritage.Eligibility criteria: U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or students with DACA status who attend or plan to attend college, including medical school, are eligible.Application deadline: March.

9. National Medical Fellowships’ Scholarships 

The National Medical Fellowships offers a variety of medical school scholarships, including the $5,000 need-based Delores and Charles Baker Scholarship to underrepresented students of medicine.Eligibility criteria: U.S. citizens or students with DACA status enrolled in an accredited medical school program in the United States are eligible.Application deadline: Varies by scholarship.

10. White Coat Investor Medical School Scholarship

The WCI Medical School Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship that can award thousands of dollars to medical school students in the United States.Eligibility criteria: Students enrolled full time in a U.S. graduate school program, including medical school, are eligible.Application deadline: August.

11. Dr. Howard R. Goldstein ’74 Memorial Humanitarian Scholarship

The Dr. Howard R. Goldstein ’74 Memorial Humanitarian Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship for fourth-year medical students at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.Eligibility criteria: Fourth-year medical students at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences who demonstrate a humanitarian spirit are eligible.Application deadline: No formal application process.

12. Pisacano Leadership Program Scholarship

The Pisacano Leadership Foundation offers merit-based scholarships of $7,000 per year for up to four years for full-time students entering their fourth year in a U.S. medical school.Eligibility criteria: Full-time students entering their fourth year in a U.S. medical school who have declared family medicine as their specialty are eligible.Application deadline: May.

13. Chinese American Physicians Society Scholarship

The Chinese American Physicians Society (CAPS) offers annual scholarships of $2,000 to $5,000 to medical school students in the United States.Eligibility criteria: Medical school students in the United States — with special credit for those who are willing to serve Chinese communities after their graduation — are eligible.Application deadline: May.

14. Dr. Richard Allen Williams Scholarship for Medical Students

The Dr. Richard Allen Williams Scholarship for Medical Students is a merit-based scholarship of $5,000 for Black and other minority students in America studying medicine.Eligibility criteria: Black and other minority medical school students in the United States are eligible.Application deadline: July.

15. Leslie Andree Hanna Medical Scholarship

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) offers this $5,000 merit-based scholarship to a female student attending medical or osteopathic school. Eligibility criteria: Females attending a medical or osteopathic school with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.25 on a four-point scale are eligible.Application deadline: Jan. 31.

Medical Schools That Offer Scholarships

Here are some medical schools that offer scholarships for medical school:

1. Vanderbilt School of Medicine

The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine offers merit-based and need-based scholarships to incoming students, including international students. Students may be considered for a merit-based award automatically. Any student may submit a College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile application through the College Board website to be considered for need-based scholarships.Some of Vanderbilt’s merit-based scholarships covered full tuition, and some of the need-based scholarships covered up to 40% of a student’s demonstrated need in the 2022–2023 academic year, according to data on the school’s website.

2. Wayne State University School of Medicine

The Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan offers a number of scholarships to students who complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA® form. The school or its Scholarship Committee may award scholarships based on your FAFSA information, academic record, citizenship status, and other criteria. The way how FAFSA works is you complete and submit the FAFSA form to apply for federal student aid options, including federal student loans. Some schools like the Wayne State University School of Medicine require students to submit the FAFSA to be considered for school-based financial aid.Most U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens are eligible for need-based financial aid for college, according to Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education. You may participate in the Federal Work-Study program while enrolled at medical school if you have financial need. You may also borrow Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans from the U.S. Department of Education without needing to show financial need.How much does medical school cost? The typical medical school cost in the United States is tens of thousands of dollars per year, and the annual cost of medical school can exceed $100,000 for some students.

3. University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine

The UMKC School of Medicine offers scholarships of $5,000 to students based upon financial need, debt level, debt reduction strategies, and merit. Students must apply to be considered for a scholarship award, and students must also complete and submit a FAFSA form to be considered for need-based scholarships.

4. New York University (NYU) Grossman School of Medicine

The NYU Grossman School of Medicine offers full-tuition scholarships covering the full cost of tuition and a limited number of full-cost-of-attendance scholarships. Students don’t need to submit an application to receive either of those scholarships.NYU also offers a need-based scholarship that can cover the cost of school-related expenses outside of tuition. Students would need to apply to be considered for that scholarship.

5. University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

The University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine offers a variety of internal scholarships, including the aforementioned Dr. Howard R. Goldstein ’74 Memorial Humanitarian Scholarship. The school also offers a $40,000 John J. and Janet H. Sung Scholarship to one student in each incoming class. Sung Scholars receive $10,000 for each year of the four-year medical school program.

Other Resources to Find Medical School Scholarships

Medical school websites may provide information about external scholarship programs. You may also search for scholarships using online resources such as Scholarship America or College Board’s BigFuture® scholarship directory.

Other Ways to Pay for Medical School

Here are additional ways you may pay for medical school:

Medical School Loans

Financial institutions may offer private student loans to help you pay for medical school. Students may also be eligible for federal student loans, particularly Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans.The difference between private and federal student loans is that federal student loans are provided exclusively by the U.S. Department of Education, whereas banks, credit unions, online lenders, and select state-based or state-affiliated organizations may offer private student loans.The average student debt across the United States is tens of thousands of dollars per borrower, according to the Education Data Initiative. Researchers from that group found the average federal student loan debt in 2021 stood at $36,510 per borrower, while private student loan debt averaged $54,921 per borrower.The average student loan debt for doctors, however, is much higher than the national average for all borrowers. Research by the Education Data Initiative reveals the average medical school graduate owes $241,600 in total student loan debt as of December 2021.

Healthcare Worker Loan Forgiveness

States may offer student loan repayment awards to doctors with student loan debt who agree to practice medicine in those particular states. The Delaware State Loan Repayment Program, for example, may offer a maximum award of $100,000 to eligible practitioners who sign a two-year service contract.Branches of the U.S. armed forces may also offer loan repayment awards to qualified physicians who serve their country in uniform.

What to Do About Undergraduate Student Loans

If you still have an outstanding balance on undergraduate student loans, you may consider different repayment options. One option you may consider is paying off student loans early. There’s no prepayment penalty if you pay your student loans off early, and doing so may minimize your interest costs.Another option you may consider is student loan refinancing. How student loan refinancing works is that borrowers submit an application with a private lender requesting a new loan agreement for refinancing student loan debt.There are several student loan refinancing pros and cons. One of the advantages of refinancing student loans is it may provide you with a lower interest rate. Borrowers may refinance both federal and private student loans.One of the big disadvantages of refinancing federal student loans with a private lender, however, is you’ll be forfeiting federal benefits, including income-driven repayment plans and federal student loan forgiveness programs.Here are additional factors you may want to consider:

The Takeaway

Scholarships can help make medical school more affordable by covering the cost of tuition and fees. One of the big reasons why medical school is so expensive in the United States is the cost of tuition, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year.Providing students with medical resources and teaching them how to perform diagnostic procedures can be a costly endeavor. Medical schools may offer scholarships to help students shoulder the cost of attendance.

3 Student Loan Tips

  • Refinancing your student loan can lower your monthly payments and help you adjust your loan term. Compare student loan refinance rates to find a loan that works for you.
  • Paying extra each month on your student loan can reduce the interest you pay and so lower your total loan cost over time. (The law prohibits prepayment penalties on federal or private student loans.)
  • Depending on their income, qualified borrowers can deduct the interest they pay for student loans, both federal or private, up to $2,500 per year. The deduction phases out for modified adjusted gross incomes of $70,000 to $85,000 for single individuals and $140,000 to $170,000 for people married and filing jointly.

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This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice. Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.LCSL0622016

Frequently Asked Questions

Do some medical schools offer merit scholarships?
Do U.S. medical schools offer scholarships for international students?
Where can you find medical school scholarships?

About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and currently serves as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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