Financial Assistance

Although two-year medical assistant programs often cost less than half as much as bachelor’s degrees from four-year schools, you’re still likely to need some help paying for your classes. A variety of different types of financial aid exist to help students, and the options to which you’ll have access depend on various aspects of your individual situation. Here’s a rundown of the basic types, along with info on how to investigate and apply for each one.

Types of Financial Assistance

Financial assistance falls into three main categories: Loans, grants and scholarships. Each type offers its own advantages, and you may even be able to combine a few of them if you’re eligible.

  • Loans

    Any money you receive and eventually have to pay back is a loan. Almost all loans accrue interest – that is, the longer you wait to pay them back, the more additional charges you’ll have to pay. But many student loans include a no-interest period, which means you may have time to finish your education program and find a job before you have to start making payments. Loans are offered by financial institutions like banks, and by many schools. A credit check is usually required, and bad credit often results in a higher interest rate.

  • Grants

    The main difference between a grant and a loan is that a grant doesn’t have to be repaid. You can apply for a federal education grant online with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Unlike a loan, a federal grant has some very specific eligibility requirements – for example, only U.S. citizens with a high school diploma or GED can receive federal grants, and many grant programs impose limits on the maximum amount of money a single grant can offer.

  • Scholarships

    Some schools and other organizations will cover part of your tuition and housing costs if you’ve got excellent grades, and/or if you’re in a tough financial situation. This type of assistance is known as a scholarship. Like grant money, scholarship money doesn’t have to be paid back – and unlike federal grants, scholarships from your school may be available to citizens of any country. However, scholarships are only awarded to a few students from each school each year, so the requirements tend to be fairly strict.

  • Military financial assistance

    If you’re an active-duty U.S. military member or a veteran, you probably also qualify for additional types of financial aid. The GI Bill provides financial assistance for veterans from almost all branches of the U.S. military, and it covers degrees and diplomas at all levels of higher education. This assistance – which never has to be repaid – covers books, tuition and other fees associated with attending school.

Applying for Financial Assistance from Schools

Many medical assistant programs – both online and off – offer some form of financial aid. You can usually find out what types of financial aid a school offers by looking for a link that says “Financial Aid” or “Financial Assistance” on the school’s website; this page will also typically contain info on who qualifies for various types of financial aid from the school, and how to start the application process.

Here are some general tips on applying for financial assistance from schools:

  • Larger schools tend to offer the widest variety of options for financial assistance, including scholarships, loans, help applying for grants, and even pages of links to help you get in touch with organizations that offer outside financial aid programs.

  • Brick-and-mortar schools tend to offer more financial aid options than online schools.

  • State schools and other government-run institutions tend to offer more scholarships and grant assistance than chain schools that operate mainly for profit.