According to a recent report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, medical school graduates will enter their residencies carrying an average tuition debt of approximately $167,000. Such a daunting prospect may discourage students from entering medicine or pursuing medical careers in primary care, which fall on the lower end of the pay scale.
Fortunately, a number of universities and government agencies provide opportunities for aspiring doctors to attend medical school without taking on exorbitant student loans.
Some medical schools offer merit-based scholarships that cover a large portion of medical school tuition expenses. The University of Pennsylvania, for example, offers 34 merit-based full-tuition scholarships each year. Competition for these scholarships is tough and requires an excellent academic record in addition to demonstrated passion and leadership outside of the classroom.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will cover full tuition expenses and provide annual stipends for students accepted into a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), a prestigious MD/PhD program offered at 45 institutions. This program is an option for students who are interested in pursuing a career in both medicine and research. Other MD/PhD programs that are not funded by the NIH offer similar training and financial incentives.
Service options and medical school tuition
The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), available in the United States Army, Navy, and Air Force, offers prospective military health care professionals a full tuition scholarship for any accredited U.S. or Puerto Rican medical school. In return, recipients will serve one year in the military for each year of financial support received. Physicians must serve a minimum of two years, and additional time may be required for longer military residency programs.
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) offers scholarships and loan repayment programs for students pursuing a career in primary care. Scholarships cover tuition and fees for up to four years, and provide recipients with a monthly living stipend. For every year a scholarship is granted, a student must commit to one year of service in a “Health Professional Shortage Area” upon graduation. The NHSC loan repayment program repays up to $60,000 in loans for primary care physicians who commit to working in an underserved community for at least two years.
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Learn more about opportunities for medical school scholarships.
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