Don’t Let Your Finances Bankrupt Med School

We all know that attending med school has plenty of stressors attached to it. Getting enough studying in, keeping everything high yield, making sure to balance your personal life and not getting burned out by the end of the second semester. Of all the things you have to deal with, there is no reason to add your finances to the mix.

We were fortunate in that we had a whole year downtime from finding out I accepted until we actually started classes. Yeah, that was a long year of sitting around and waiting – I kind of went crazy a couple of times – but it allowed us some time to really focus on being sure we were ready for med school fiscally. Here are a few of the strategies we employed!


While You’re Waiting to Start:

Donate Plasma and Medical Studies
These two things were available in my area, what do you have available in yours? I applied for a few different medical studies but never got in. Still, for going through the process of being screened, which took a couple hours, I made something like $50. Not a ton, but every bit helps. It was the plasma donation that really added up for me. I treated it like a second job that I was in control of the hours. I was able to use that money for all of the study aids and school supplies outside of my class requirements.

Extra Shifts
Pick all of them up. Now is the time to be making some money. If you can’t pick them up, get some seasonal work. Perhaps there is some contract work that you can pick up. In theatre, there is often gigs offered that last between a night or weekend up to only 2 or 3 weeks.

Austerity Measures
Nothing can be done in finances without first having a solid budget. If you aren’t budgeting now, start by starting to budget. Once you’ve started, look for as many ways as you can to cut that. We quickly learned that it is just as cheap or cheaper for us to host a dinner party than it is for us to go out. A penny saved is worth more than a penny earned when you’re dealing with a limited time frame to earn within.

Community College
Since my original schooling was not anywhere near medicine, biological sciences or even real math, I had to start by going back to school part time. I did this for a couple years at our local community college. Even though we were living in a town that contained a big university, I simply couldn’t argue the cost of tuition. My whole cost for taking Organic Chem, book included, was just barely over the cost of one credit at the large university. And everything still transferred.

Employee Reimbursement
Make sure to check into this, especially if you’re at a hospital or any kind of large organization! While you won’t be working for them while attending med school, you can take advantage of it in the meantime to help keep your costs down as you prepare. Mix this with the low cost tuition of community college, and you may have found yourself virtually a free ride. I know I did.

While at Medical School:

Plan your additional expenses
This kind of fits in both, but plan ahead for how much money you’ll need. Try to plan for any additional expenses that will be out of normal – things like subscriptions, tutors, additional books or materials. Even if you don’t know what exactly you’re going to get, you can still plan for needing those additional funds.

Payment Plans
Especially once you’re enrolled, most schools want to keep you there. They want your money, it’s how they stay a float. Many of them will have payment plan options that will help you stay ahead of the game and going to class. Just talk to your financial department and ask them what options and programs they have available.

Research Assistant/Tutor
There are probably more roles like this, but these are the ones you’ll hear about the most. Either way, it’s work study! What I really like about the idea of working as a tutor or research assistant is that these are also good resume builders. If you’re only option is in the janitorial areas, still take them. Money is money and you need as much as you can get to survive med school!

Scholarships and Grants
I almost forgot to mention this because it is so obvious. Absolutely, you should be applying for scholarships and grants year round. There are many late deadline options available, and once you’ve crafted a good essay, you should only need to tweak it a bit and it will work for most applications.

The real takeaway of this article isn’t necessarily the specifics of how to make money. What is really important is for you to take maintain a solid control of your finances. If you don’t have control now, take it and get yourself on the right path. I promise that once you get started, you can take all the power out of it and make it much easier for yourself. That way you can spend your time focusing on school instead!

If you need help keeping track of your budget, download our Budget Planner Cheat Sheet here!

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