Although it’s rewarding, becoming a physician is a challenging, long, and expensive process. Along with the cost of undergraduate studies, the average amount of medical school debt is $215,900 making this a substantial financial commitment. While the cost of attending medical school is intimidating, it shouldn’t prevent you from pursuing your dream. Fortunately, there are several ways to finance your education. Here are a few funding options to consider.

Look for Scholarships

This might seem obvious, but scholarships are some of the best ways to afford the cost of medical school. You probably applied to some for your undergraduate education, but there are plenty of scholarships for medical school as well.

Similar to undergraduate scholarships, there are endless opportunities based on merit, volunteer work, cultural background, and other demographics. Additionally, the organizations you’re in or were part of in college may have scholarship opportunities as well. If you have a part-time job, your company may even help cover your tuition or offer a scholarship you’re eligible for.

There are even some schools that offer full scholarships for all of their students. For example, the NYU Grossman School of Medicine has a tuition-free initiative where they cover the full cost of tuition for each student. Similarly, students entering in the fall of 2020 through 2024 at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine will have all tuition and fees waived. Even if you aren’t admitted to one of these schools, it’s still worth it to research what kinds of scholarships or financial aid packages your prospective schools offer.

Work for Your College

Medical school can be hectic, but if you have additional time in your schedule consider becoming a teaching or research assistant at your college for some extra income. Depending on your school and role, you can get your tuition reduced or receive a paycheck that you can dedicate toward the cost of education.

These types of roles are not only beneficial for your finances, but they also give you valuable experience in the medical field and can help you become an expert in certain areas. Working closely with professors or researchers at your school can also help you make meaningful connections that may lead to job recommendations or mentorship opportunities. If you especially enjoy being a teaching assistant, you can also tutor students for more money that can be put towards school.

Take Advantage of Your Home Equity

People attend medical school at all stages of life, and if you’re a homeowner you have a unique financial advantage. You may not know it, but if you own a home you can take advantage of your home equity for some extra funding for medical school that isn’t a student loan.

Depending on how much money you’ve invested into your home, a home equity loan may be able to cover a year’s worth of tuition and expenses. However, in order to qualify you’ll need to build up enough equity in your home by paying down your mortgage. Using your home equity can be a wise financial decision for medical school because you can use the money however you want, while getting a lower interest rate than personal loans or credit cards. While this financial opportunity is a helpful advantage to owning a home, remember your home acts as collateral, so make sure you have an organized payment plan set up.

Apply for Service Programs

Another way to pay for medical school is by enrolling in service programs sponsored by the U.S. government or military. These loan forgiveness programs can pay for part or all of your education in exchange for years of service in their organizations. Some popular programs include:

  • National Health Service Corps (NHSC): The Department of Health & Human Services can cover up to four years of your tuition and living expenses for those pursuing an eligible primary care health professions training. In exchange, you must provide primary care health services in an approved underserved community.
  • Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP): Sponsored by the U.S. Army, this program offers qualifying students full tuition for medical school along with a $2,000 monthly stipend, $20,000 sign-on bonus, and other benefits. However, you must practice medicine for the U.S. military for each year you receive the scholarship.

If you want to avoid medical school debt, service programs can be a smart financial decision. Just make sure to research the associated stipulations and commitments before applying.

The cost of medical school can be overwhelming, but don’t let your finances restrict you from pursuing your passion. Remember, medical school is an investment in your future, and as long as you apply for scholarships and research other funding opportunities you’ll be set up for success.