First off, scholarships are always your best friend. There is no interest. You don’t pay it back. Essentially, it is “free” money. If you have a high GPA and MCAT score, then you have a high chance of receiving a scholarship.
Your other financial aid opportunities consist of loans–private or governmental. If you want a chance at the school’s private loans (ranging from $3000-5000), LLUSM (and most other graduate schools) will require you to fill out the FAFSA. Preference is given to students who have completed the FAFSA by the early deadline which was April 1 for us this year. Oh and by the way, the school loan is subsidized–an extremely rare type of loan to be found nowadays. Subsidized means the loan doesn’t build up interest while you are in school. And for LLUSM loans, you may even defer payment of your loans until after residency. If you accept a $4000 loan, it’ll still be $4000 when you get out. Then, unfortunately, interest will start, but at least you’ll be making some money too.
There are two main type of government loans: the Stafford loans, and the Graduate Plus loans. The Stafford loans used to be subsidized, but to the woe of every student we know, there are no longer any subsidized loans. This means that the moment you start school, the 6.8% interest starts accumulating. Thankfully, the loan doesn’t start compounding until after graduation, meaning that any gained interest while you are in school isn’t added to your original. There’s no need to pay interest of the interest until after graduation.
The second type, the Graduate Plus loans, are typically only borrowed if additional money is needed on top of the Stafford loans. The loan has very similar conditions except for an increased rate of 7.9%. For those who may not realize it, 1 extra percent of interest can add up to some serious money (think thousands of dollars).
If you have extra time just waiting to be burned, LLU suggests the Fastweb website to find additional scholarships and loans. These will all be funded from private companies, typically requiring varying degrees of qualifications and applications.
Another possible option (we’ve all heard it) is paying your way through military scholarships. However, before signing up, be sure to find out all the information before commitment. The benefits are pretty impressive–a monthly stipend in addition to a full ride. However, in addition to the required service, your future career options will be limited based upon the military’s needs. I would suggest consulting several sources, both official and unofficial, before signing up.
Click here for LLU’s more detailed explanation of the types of financial aid.
Bottom line: It’s never too early to start looking into money matters. When dealing with such large amounts of cash, missed deadlines leading to increased interest rates or missed scholarships are a pretty big deal. The world of medical finances can be a pretty tangled place with enough paperwork to equal a forest, but we’re willing to share whatever knowledge we’ve gained.