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  • 3m.

    Special Loan Benefits For Health Professions Students

    If you need more money for medical school, nursing school, or another health degree, you may take advantage of extra student loan benefits, including higher borrowing limits and unique postponement options.
    Updated: November 4, 2016

    What You'll Learn

    • How much extra you can borrow for a health care education.
    • What kinds of degrees qualify for higher loan limits.
    • Loan postponement options for health professionals.

    Male doctor with group of medical students

    As a medical or health professions student, you will probably face at least 4–6 more years of schooling after you've completed your undergrad degree.

    Fortunately, those extra years entitle you to higher borrowing limits and more loan options to pay for those years—as well as special postponements to manage that extra debt once you graduate. Let's run through these benefits.

    You Can Borrow More

    As a graduate student, you would receive up to $20,500 in unsubsidized Stafford loans. Depending on how long you are enrolled each year and what you study, you would be eligible for even more.

    Type Of Program

    9-Month Academic Year

    12-Month Academic Year

    Graduate of public health

    Graduate in allied health

    Doctor of chiropractic

    Doctoral degree in clinical psychology

    Master's or doctoral degree in health administration

    Bachelor or Master of Science in pharmacology or equivalent

    Up to $12,500 in additional unsubsidized Stafford loans.

    Up to $16,667 in additional unsubsidized Stafford loans.

    Allopathic medicine

    Osteopathic medicine


    Veterinary science


    Podiatric science

    Naturopathic medicine

    Up to $20,000 in additional unsubsidized Stafford loans.

    Up to $26,667 in additional unsubsidized Stafford loans.

    You would have an aggregate limit of $224,000 of Stafford loans (both grad and undergrad), with up to $65,000 being subsidized from your undergrad (subsidized Stafford loans for grads were eliminated as of July 1, 2012).

    You can learn more about borrowing unsubsidized Stafford loans here.

    You are also eligible to apply for Grad PLUS loans. Grad PLUS loans will have a higher interest rate than unsubsidized Stafford loans, but there is no cap on how much you can borrow a year. This means that you can bridge the gap between your tuition, fees, living expenses, etc. and how much financial aid you receive. Unlike unsubsidized Stafford loans, you do need to qualify for Grad PLUS loans, thanks to their credit criteria.

    Learn more about borrowing these loans here.

    You Have Access To Other Federal Student Loan Options

    Since a health profession education can get expensive, the government offers many types of loans as an alternative to cover the tuition gap you face before you borrow a Grad PLUS or private student loan. These federal loans offer low, fixed interest rates and a longer grace period than Grad PLUS loans.

    Speak to your financial aid office to help you determine your best option for financing your degree.

    You May Be Able To Have Your Loans Forgiven

    The government offers forgiveness programs for medical and health professions students that could wipe out a portion or all of your student debt. In addition, we've found many state-by-state options from other sources that can do this too!

    You May Be Able To Postpone Your Loan Payments

    Many postponements are designed for unfortunate circumstances when you can't afford your payments, but there are also postponements designed specifically for health professionals.

    You can receive a deferment while you are in an eligible graduate fellowship for as long as you are in the eligible program full time.

    In addition, medical or dental residents or interns can request forbearance while they are participating in their required programs. As long as you submit your required documentation, the forbearance has to be granted. It will be for 12-month increments until your program is finished.

    How To Tell If You Have Unsubsidized Stafford Or Grad PLUS Loans

    Check the U.S. Department of Education's National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) for info on these federal student loans. NSLDS will tell you:

    • If you have unsubsidized Stafford or Grad PLUS loans.
    • How much you owe on them.
    • Who you should contact about repayment.
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