I can’t seem to think of a better way to launch this blog other than beginning with a topic that pertains to EVERYONE in higher education – especially those in medical school or entering medical school – and that is maximizing your financial aid award by way of the financial aid application. It’s that time of year and if you’re like other folks, you’re scrambling to accumulate all of the required information.
The impetus for this post was a CBS MoneyWatch article that focuses on financial aid application mistakes to avoid. Yes, the undergrad population is the target audience; however, if you are currently a medical student completing a financial aid application, there are some important points to take away from this article.
In many cases financial aid administered by the institution is limited and/or restricted and awards are distributed on a first come, first serve basis. Applying early will usually afford you the opportunity to benefit from these sources of funding. I say usually because each institution manages its funding differently so check with the school to determine if applying early will be of any benefit.
Accuracy of information on the FAFSA or any supplemental application is key. Financial aid administrators will make decisions based on the information that you provide on your applications. Ensure that all entries and responses are correct then go back and check once more before you hit submit. Once you complete the FAFSA you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) which summarizes the entire application. Review it and address any errors immediately.
Within this same vein is the attention that should be given to additional required documentation and deadlines. With respect to medical schools, many school’s application processes differ. What you are required to submit and when you are required to submit it should be available on the school’s website or in a financial aid handbook. If after reviewing this information questions still remain, reach out to the office of financial aid for additional details.
Communication is also a very important, yet often overlooked, piece of the financial aid puzzle. The FAFSA itself will not allow you to include additional information that you feel is important or relevant but supplemental applications often do. Being that there’s no way to know how your personal circumstances may affect your impending award, talk to someone in the office of financial aid to determine what should be included or communicated to the school.
Yes, medical school is expensive but it is an investment – the most significant investment of your career – so pay close attention to the financial aid application process and treat it as you would any other investment. Best of luck applying!