Since attending a professional school in the health sciences can cost up to $200,000 or more, considering financial aid is something that should be done well before you are accepted to a school. If you have financial aid as an undergraduate, you should realize that some loan programs (Perkins, Stafford) have a maximum amount that can be borrowed for undergraduate and professional programs combined. Therefore, the less you borrow now, the more that will be available later. Also, you should understand employment as an undergraduate is fine, as long as it does not adversely affect your academic record, and therefore your acceptance to a professional school.
Professional schools do not have the resources to help all their students, and even those resources that do exist are diminishing as costs are rising. Financial aid from schools consists of a few scholarships (only 10% of medical school students receive merit scholarships), grants and teaching or research assistantships. This aid is based on demonstrated need. Most financial aid comes from a variety of federal loan programs that vary from year to year. The financial aid office of the professional school will be able to help you with specific information.
Most students receive financial support from their families, their savings, loans and summer employment. Substantial employment during the school year is not usually feasible or advisable. Occasionally, a student may find it more practical to delay entrance to the school, after being accepted, and work a year or two to save money. Some specific loan and/or grant programs are available to students meeting certain criteria. These programs are administered by the Ohio Board of Regents, church groups, labor unions, corporations, professional organizations and ethnic organizations. Because the Federal Government is trying to encourage medical students to enter primary care, there are federal Primary Care Loans and scholarships that require a commitment to a primary care specialty.
The Association of American Medical Colleges, AAMC, has helpful information about the options you have in financing your medical school education. Click here for this web page.
Other possibilities include Service Obligation Scholarship programs, like the Armed Forces (Air Force, Army and Navy) Health Professions Scholarships and the National Health Service Corps Scholarships (800-221-9393) that pay all the expenses of your education plus a salary, but require a commitment to serve as a physician for the organization for the same number of years as the financial support. There is strong competition for these scholarships, and you should look into them early in your senior year.