Our poster today is an Air Force pilot who now wants to go to medical school He has three kids and a wife and is worried the HPSP scholarship won’t be enough. (Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) is a scholarship program offered by the military.)
But first, be sure to check out MedEd Media for more podcasts to help you on this medical school application journey. We also have a new podcast that joined us recently, the TMDSAS Podcast. The TMDSAS stands for Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service, which is the application system for the public Texas medical schools.
And if you don’t already have an account yet, sign up so you can join the Nontrad Premed Forum and start asking some questions, which will be answered here on the podcast or by the community.
[01:43] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“I’m an active duty Air Force officer applying to medical school this cycle. I’ve been in the Air Force for nine years as a pilot. I have a wife with three kiddos. I’ve already been released from my career field. I just applied to USUHS (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences) and will automatically qualify for HPSP with my undergraduate GPA and MCAT scores. My wife is supportive of me going to medical school but I’m not really on board with the HPSP and the financial toll that it will have on my family – a family of five living on $30,000 a year.
What I was wondering is if anyone has had experience or knows of anyone who has gone through medical school on HPSP scholarship with a family and if they were able to secure additional loans for living expenses? After discussion with several med school financial advisors, it seemed that it would be difficult additional financial support or student loans if you’re already on HPSP.”
[02:45] Other Ways to Get Extra Income
A family of five living on $30,000 a year is tough, but it’s doable to still go to medical school. You just have to sacrifice. There are other things that could be done, like if it’s possible for your wife to get some work. Ideas would be driving Uber or Lyft or just work from home so she can still be home with the kids while working as, say, a virtual assistant.
[03:25] Loans Aside from the HPSP
Based on personal experience, you can take out loans up to the school budget. The HPSP will give you a tuition, fees, and your stipend. If the school’s budget is above that then you may potentially take out more student loans. A lot depends on where you are living.
I went to a medical school in New York, specifically in one of the most expensive, richest countries in the country. I was losing money every month and was able to take out some student loans because the HPSP scholarship and the stipend were not enough to cover all of the school’s budgeted expenses. So I was able to go through the regular Stafford federal loans and they provided assistance.
I had friends in Missouri who were pocketing money because the HPSP scholarship plus the stipend was more than their living expenses or more than the budget the school had set. And so, they were able to save money in medical school.
[05:03] Where Are You Going?
Again, a lot will depend on where you go to medical school. Remember that no matter what, if you were taking loans from Uncle Sam without HPSP or if you were doing HPSP, at the end of the day, it’s the same amount of money. You can either take out student loans to the maximum amount that the school has set for their budget. You can’t take out more or they won’t let you, at least federally.
So, the schools set a budget based on tuition, fees, and living expenses for just you (not a family of five). If you’re doing HPSP, they’re paying for your tuition, fees, and they’re giving your their monthly stipend. Then you can take out loans up to the budget of that school. In the end, it’s the same. There’s no difference and it’s just who’s paying the money. Is it coming from the Department of Defense or from the Treasury and you get the bill later. Ultimately, there’s no major difference.
[06:25] Do You Still Want to Serve?
At the end of the day, the question is do you want to continue to serve? Don’t do HPSP just because you want free medical school. If you’ve already served nine years, are you interested in being a pilot physician? It’s a great career and different. But don’t just do HPSP or USUHS because it’s free medical school. Do it because that’s what you want to do.
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