List of med schools with good/any aid?

My son is a senior and will be applying next cycle (for 2022) and I’m struggling to understand the financial aid process, base loans, the med school equivalent of CSS etc. so we can have a good sense of how much we can support him.

He has a good GPA (3.8+/3.9+science)/MCAT (520)/ECs/Research and we’d like to be able to let him look beyond our state school (UMass), but it’s so hard to understand which schools he would have a chance of being accepted by that also have good aid. Our younger one will have graduated in 2022, so no sibling in school either, and we’ll be tapped out from having put two kids through college (with help from generous aid from their schools)

He has started looking at MSAR data and making his list, but from my point of view (the $ angle!) there isn’t that much information.

Any advice from parents that have been through the process?

If there are posts with this information please share the link…I did search, but did not find many beyond NYU which seems to have v low acceptance…

Thank you so much for any and all advice!

The assumption one has to make when applying to medical school is that they have to borrow the money to attend medical school. Every medical school allows them to borrow money for the full cost of attendance.

If one can get into a top 10 medical school, they have some level of financial aid but it does not work in a lot of cases if parents have an income higher than 60-100k in most cases because the starting point for several of the schools is that the students borrow upto 30k per year, then they factor in a parental contribution based on parental income (I have read stories where they were expecting parental contribution even from applicants older than 30/married with kids).

There are merit scholarships at Penn (35 full tuition), UCLA (full tuition), WashU, Vanderbilt (various levels), Chicago (various levels) and a few other schools given to those students they are competing for against their peers. A lot of this might depend on the luck of the draw of someone getting through the entire process of getting called for an interview, getting admitted and then being ranked as someone sought after by the school.

Then it comes down to financial aid being given by the schools that wont be paid back vs what you actually need to borrow. Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Hopkins, WashU, Penn all have these loans where most of them require the student to borrow the 30k per year, consider parental contributions, and then give you the rest as aid not to be paid back.

NYU (two campuses - Long Island is quite small -24 students with specific number preallocated to each of the primary care areas and completed in 3 years), Kaiser Permanente are all free tuition. Some students at NYU and Kaiser have gotten money on top of free tuition, almost to the tune of full cost of attendance. Cleveland clinic is considered free tuition but a very small school and Kaiser is similar in terms of how many they admit.

Most med schools, except for your in-state schools, have low acceptance rates, either b/c they’re state-funded and by-law primarily accept in-state or states w/affiliation agreements (i.e. UWSOM and WWAMI) or they’re private and receive many applications from applicants from states with uber-competitive in-state med-schools (i.e. California.) The traditional route offers more med school merit scholarships than the BS/MD route for HS which I just went through, but for both application routes, the MSAR (in-addition to school websites) is the best way to figure out what kind of aid’s offered and what the in-state/out-of-state split is (keep in mind that, especially at private schools, a lot of students who graduate with “no debt” have parents paying for their med school, which qualifies as no debt IIRC; also, the MSAR fails to account for schools like UW with state-affiliation agreements and mistakenly counts them as “out-of-state” when they’re considered basically in-state due to regional campuses–so make sure to look through each state school’s website for information about this.)

Texas state schools are very affordable (compared to out-of-state schools/privates—they’re even cheaper than my in-state med school,) but by-law, limit 10% of their class to be out-of-state.

If your school has a pre-health advising department, contact them as they’ll be the most qualified to provide information about where previous applicants with similar stats applied/were accepted. The NAAHP has volunteer advisors for students coming from schools without pre-health advisors.

NAAHP Find an Advisor:

TL; DR: Buy the 2-year MSAR subscription. It’s ~$30 but will be your BEST FRIEND throughout the application cycle.

Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!

DS is also applying for 2022. I spoke with a doctor friend and mentioned he was looking at our state school so he could pay in state tuition - being very cost conscious. She said not to worry so much about the cost of the school but rather finding the right fit because either way they should have the earning power afterwards to pay it off. This idea helped me a lot in being OK with his inevitable debt.

Thank you so much. Lots to think about. If I’m understanding it right the options are:

  1. In State school cost 36K per year
  2. Top schools with needs based aid after 30K per year loan taken by student (cost around 92K total -Tuition 65K, Living exp 27K) "Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Hopkins, WashU, Penn etc" Q: What about Cornell? I've heard they don't require a loan? We love the school (one of our kids attended undergrad) but I'm very confused about what they offer for aid and if we'd qualify.
  3. Schools with merit aid, full tuition to lower levels, highly competitive (92K total -Tuition 65K, Living exp 27K) "Penn (35 full tuition), UCLA (full tuition), WashU, Vanderbilt (various levels), Chicago (various levels)"
  4. Schools with free tuition "NYU, Kaiser Permanente, Cleveland"
  5. Anywhere DS gets in (fingers crossed!) and don't worry about the cost/let him take out loans!

Although there are only 10% seats in Texas med schools for OOS, several schools give you a $1000 per year scholarship which make them eligible for instate tuition. If you are admitted to UT Southwestern or UT Houston, you would most likely pay instate which is around 22k/per year at the moment.

That is such a good way to look at it! I’d love for him to only think about fit that’s why I’m trying to figure out this piece to the best of my ability… Good luck to your son!!

I did not know that about Texas schools! Thank you so much for the info and for the tip to look at the in state/ OOS ratios. Yes, I think DS has MSAR and is working on a list using it.

That is a revelation. Thank you!!

@auntyji Both Cornell and Columbia Medicine meet full demonstrated need w/o loans.

Weill Cornell:


Keep in mind that like undergrad, your assets and income will typically be counted. If your other kid goes to an undergrad that meets full need, you might not be able to appeal for more aid b/c you’re having to pay for siblings’ graduate/professional school (check with the school’s FA website/appeal form.)

Hope that helps!

A huge caveat on “he’ll be able to pay off those loans”-

Yes- if he’s interested in/gets into dermatology or one of the other hugely competitive/highly compensated specialties.

Big Red Flag- if he’s interested in/ends up in primary care. I know physicians in their late 40’s who are STILL paying off loans. Neighbor of mine is a pediatrician- all the pediatric groups in my area are now corporate owned (no longer 5 docs getting together to open a practice and hiring a couple of nurses and a receptionist… these are sophisticated operations where the docs are employees, not owners). There are not a lot of ways to expand your income when you are a doctor in one of these practices. And when you are about to turn 50 and starting to worry about paying your kids college tuition-- do you really want to be chipping away at your med school loans?

Take a look at some of the programs for docs who work in underserved areas for loan forgiveness. Seems like a faster way to get out from under the debt than paying it off monthly-- especially if you don’t get into a mega bucks residency.

1 Like

Many med schools are moving away from merit awards to need-based scholarship to increase their SES diversity.

Full free tuition for all accepted students: NYU, Kaiser Permanente, Cleveland Clinic.

Penn–25 full tuition scholarships–merit based.
WashU --full tuition to about 1/2 of each incoming class** (based on a combination of need and merit)
UCLA–full COA to about 1/3 of each incoming class** (based on a combination of need and merit)
Mt Sinai–institutional aid replaces student loans for any student who has demonstrated financial need**
Columbia-- institutional aid replaces student loans for any student who has demonstrated financial need**
Cornell–institutional aid replaces student loans for any students who has demonstrated financial need**
Vanderbilt–offer a limited number of merit scholarships
Stanford --the Knight Hennessy Scholarship can be used at the med school. It pays 100% of COA.

**Schools require financial information from parents & spouses and will calculate a family EFC

Private med schools w/ large endowments (Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Northwestern, Duke, Stanford, etc) typically require that the student take out a base student loan of about ~$30-40K/year AND pay the family EFC before they will award institutional aid. Those med schools require the Needs Access (equivalent to the CSS Profile only even MORE invasive) or their own school-specific FA forms which they then use to determine financial need.

Institutional aid is not necessarily always the same thing as a scholarship (free money). Many private med schools offer their own in-house private subsidized loans in their FA packages.

Some state medical school offer merit scholarships, but the exact amount and duration depends on the specific school policies. For example, D2 got a small merit award her first year that escalated every year until she had an 80% tuition scholarship by her 4th year of med school. She also was awarded a tutoring position that helped pay for living expenses. Another poster’s D got a 1/2 tuition scholarship after her first year when she accepted a teaching scholar’s position with her med school.

Often state med schools will offer BIG merit to top caliber applicants in order to poach them away from much higher ranked schools. One poster’s son who had multiple top 15 acceptances received full COA for his MD/MBA at to his state med school.

Every OOS student accepted at UCF gets a scholarship that waives their OOS costs.

For TX public med schools, any student who receives a scholarship worth $1000 or more gets in-state tuition.

But except for known quantities like the schools I listed at the top of my post, you basically have to apply, get accepted, then see what the school offers. If a applicant gets multiple acceptances, then they may be able to bargain with a school.

@blossom Mt. Sinai requires a base loan of ~20K. Only Columbia & Cornell Medicine meet full need w/o loans.

I believe UCF Medicine only offered full scholarships to its first few classes in-order to recruit applicants as a new med school. They still offer scholarships, but no guarantees.

UCF Scholarships:


This is such helpful information. Thank you so much!! We’re just starting to try and understand the fees side of things, now that DS has his test score. At least we’ll be a bit more educated about that when he shares his school list over Thanksgiving break.

That’s what we worry about. The goal is to be helpful in figuring out how not to be drowning in debt by the end of the process. The rest he seems to be managing fine.

Thank you!! This is so useful!


Your son needs to be aware that medical schools are NOT required by AMCAS to provide any FA information/ packages before the April 30th deadline for selecting just one school.

Some schools only award scholarships only AFTER a student has committed to enroll. (CTE).

The other problem with not looking at the costs of med school is that residency and fellowship are relatively low paying. (Residents typically earn in the mid $50K range.)

If a resident lives in high COL area then repaying loans may be nearly impossible on a resident’s salary. Even just paying the annual interest can be difficult. Over the course of residency and fellowship, interest + interest capitalization can increase the original loans by 50% or more.

While a newly fledged attending does make a more than comfortable salary, often young doctors want to “get on” with their life–buy a house, buy new cars, raise a family, take expensive vacations–and spending 5-8 years continuing to live like a grad student while they down/pay off their student loans may not be very appealing.

NHSC and some states do offer loan repayment to primary care physicians willing to work in medically underserved areas--ether full time or part-time.  The VA has a similar program, but it encompasses a wider variety of specialties. (However, one must be careful when going to work for the VA, the position must be advertised as eligible for Education Debt Reduction Program. The position cannot be made EDR eligible retroactively.) 

VA--<a href=""></a>
NHSC--<a href=""></a>

Then there's PSLF.

PSLF is not a program that anyone should depend on for loan repayment. Congress keeps threatening to abolish it or at least prohibit  high income earners (like doctors) from participating.

Also PSLF is fairly restrictively in as far as who a physician can work for. The physician must work for a 503c non-profit entity. Most doctors do NOT work directly for a hospital or non-profit clinic, but are contracted employees--even at academic centers and non-profit clinics. Most democratic physician groups (doctor owned medical practices) do not qualify for PSLF. Nor do large group corporate medical groups. (Which are the current trend in medical practice.) 

And there's a kicker--any amount forgiven under PSLF is considered taxable income. Ouch!

Cornell and Columbia couldn’t compete with NYU’s free offers vs their unit loan method even for those who qualified for full financial aid. So they added this upgrade last year at both schools. However, NYU is free and not income dependent while Cornell and Columbia are still based on income.

UCLA Geffen scholarship is not as generous for OOS students, only covering full tuition for year 1 and instate for other years.

That is so concerning. I was under the impression that multiple acceptances might help an applicant get better offers of FA from Institutions. If it’s not even disclosed then you’re taking a chance on what aid you might end up with… Thank you for explaining and for the other information. I will read up on the links you shared.

@texaspg and @WayOutWestMom
Here are a few questions to you -
A medical student is supposed to be financially independent and files his/her own FAFSA. Are parent’s required to file FAFSA too ? Are full COA (Direct Grad Plus something like 40.5 K/yr limit) loans based on income and assets like Stafford loans for UG from DOE ? Any current information about PSLF program ? Any insight will be much appreciated.

1 Like