Aug 12, 2015
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So I'm not quite sure if I should apply as financially disadvantaged. For the first half of my life, my dad was doing well for himself (annual income of ~100k) as a small business owner; however, things took a turn in '05. He sold his business in '05 and then in '06 he invested the majority of it in a new business venture with some friends. The business project (which was a strip mall) turned out to be at a pretty bad time because as it finished construction, the 2008 recession hit. Thus my dad lost the vast majority of the money he gained from the sale of his previous business, got hit with a foreclosure on the strip mall, and then lost any source of a stable income. This leads to the second half of my life where my family income has been consistently below the poverty line (which is around 28K for my family of 5). My dad just works a service job now so his income is really low and he doesn't have funds to try to get back into business so he's just stuck at his service job.

The reason why I question if I am financially disadvantaged is because 1) I live in a good, upper-middle class neighborhood (this is possible because we moved there while my dad was doing well for himself) 2) my siblings and I never worked/had to provide for the family because my parents insisted that we focus on school instead. I'm torn because those two points make me feel like I shouldn't consider myself as disadvantaged, but at the same time the fact that financials play such a large role in my decisions makes me feel like I should. For example, I often consider delaying medical school for several years and working in the financial industry (I'm an econ major) in order to help pay for my little sister's college tuition, help my dad pay back the hefty loans he takes from his friends, and give him some money for a new business attempt. Aside from the low income, the only way I can speak of the financial hardship is the struggle it creates in my educational decisions (deciding to go to med school now vs. later, deciding to go to a prestigious out of state school vs. staying at an average in-state school for undergrad, and cramming my undergrad into 2 years to get out with less debt).

Does it sound like I qualify? Thanks for the help.
 

JustintheDoctor

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Wait, so your family as of now makes 28k? Yes you are most definitely financially disadvantaged
 

BeMD13

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Just be careful. Adcoms have seen it all. If you are genuinely disadvantaged, apply for fee assistance, provide your parents past tax info and get the official yay or nay from AMCAS. If you were trying to get an advantage by appearing disadvantaged (not saying you are) they would see right through that in an interview.
 

Crayola227

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I don't know how AMCAS goes for that. There's the program to apply for application cost relief way back inl my day.


Usually if you weren't getting public aid, food stamps, welfare, food boxes, working jobs in high school to go to your family growing up in poverty, working your way through college, first to graduate college, selling plasma, eating out of dumpsters, homeless shelters, dropping out of high school, physical abuse, going hungry, difficulty getting medical/dental care, living without electricity in a cabin or out of your car or something, caring for disabled/ill family members in a way that held you back in some regards, I dunno.

If you're going to put that the secondaries will likely have essays for you to talk about these hardships and how they have crafted your character to what unique qualities you will bring to bear on career.

You will certainly need to be prepared to share a good underdog sob story during your interviews that is sincere.

6 figure salary failed business venture, unless it brings your family down to where you've had the above in that last half of your childhood and you're supporting your family now or dealing with the stuff I've said, I don't think will help you.

Wanting to help with debt or college tuition, while admirable and difficult, I don't think will tug adcom heart strings enough. I don't mean to minimize the poverty you guys have had, if you have more to your story as I've said, apply through AMCAS see what happens.

I could be wrong.
 
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Crayola227

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Poverty will wring a tear, and busting through college in two years because you couldn't afford it (loans and work didn't cover it) is good for demonstarting work ethic/ability if your grades are good through that, but struggling with debt is the norm and hardly qualifies.

$28,000 for a family of 5 growing up maybe has some good stories as I've said.

Trying to keep yours or your families' debt down is not economic disadvantage, I'm sorry. It's about going without resources that adds the kind of character experience to help disadvantaged patients, which is why that is what interests adcom.
 

Doug Underhill

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How much of your childhood- birth to your 18th birthday- was spent poor?

Did you ever receive public assistance?
 
May 23, 2015
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It sounds like you're just trying to get the designation. You have/had a pretty good life. I don't think you're disadvantaged at all. You probably should have received FAP, but the disadvantage designation is a little much. My parents never even made over 50k and we were FAR from an upper middle class neighborhood and I didn't apply as disadvantaged.
 
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Affiche

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For example, I often consider delaying medical school for several years and working in the financial industry (I'm an econ major) in order to help pay for my little sister's college tuition, help my dad pay back the hefty loans he takes from his friends, and give him some money for a new business attempt. Aside from the low income, the only way I can speak of the financial hardship is the struggle it creates in my educational decisions (deciding to go to med school now vs. later, deciding to go to a prestigious out of state school vs. staying at an average in-state school for undergrad, and cramming my undergrad into 2 years to get out with less debt).
The above does not make you financially disadvantaged. Financials plays into decision-making for just about every logical person out there, regardless of income. Delaying education because you cannot afford to continue or need to support family to get by (food, rent, etc) qualifies you, but thinking about paying for your sister's tuition or your dad's next business venture does not.

It doesn't sound like you've really missed any opportunities because of your financial situation, just that you've thought about working more and want the benefits of having to do so.
 
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Jun 24, 2013
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Yes you are disadvantaged. Are you as disadvantaged as someone growing up on the streets of Detroit or Delhi? No, but you are still disadvantaged relative many other applicants. Follow the advice of others and include the info for AMCAS, then write a good story about your family's lack of income and the challenges you overcame as a result in your essays on the topic.

My upbringing was opposite of yours: very poor early then my parents went to college and started to do better financially (and very well after I went to college). I'm sure there would be naysayers for my situation as well. Also, don't worry if you never took free lunches or other assistance. My family was well below the poverty line and my Father never let us accept any government assistance. That has nothing to do with a disadvantaged SES, only whether or not your family took assistance.

People who say high school and college years are not formative are nuts (or just can't imagine being 40). Remember the people evaluating your application are older and look back on college and medical school as formative years, let alone high school.
 

BeMD13

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Maybe the best way to approach it for your application would be to get the AMCAS fee assistance but not mark your app as disadvantaged and then wait for the secondaries. I can pretty much guarantee that at some point you'll get that, "Tell us about an obstacle you've overcome..." prompt or interview question. You could talk about your family's financial situation then without having to worry about stirring up any negative reactions from any adcom members.
 
May 23, 2015
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Yes you are disadvantaged. Are you as disadvantaged as someone growing up on the streets of Detroit or Delhi? No, but you are still disadvantaged relative many other applicants. Follow the advice of others and include the info for AMCAS, then write a good story about your family's lack of income and the challenges you overcame as a result in your essays on the topic.

My upbringing was opposite of yours: very poor early then my parents went to college and started to do better financially (and very well after I went to college). I'm sure there would be naysayers for my situation as well. Also, don't worry if you never took free lunches or other assistance. My family was well below the poverty line and my Father never let us accept any government assistance. That has nothing to do with a disadvantaged SES, only whether or not your family took assistance.

People who say high school and college years are not formative are nuts (or just can't imagine being 40). Remember the people evaluating your application are older and look back on college and medical school as formative years, let alone high school.

By this logic, every one in the world is disadvantaged. OP is disadvantaged compared to many applicants, sure, but saying that really means nothing. Is someone disadvantaged if they make 500k vs someone who makes 750k? Sure they are, but you'll look like a moron for trying for that angle. By all accounts, OP has led a cushy life and lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood.

I don't mean to be riled up about it, but it's insulting when people want to claim disadvantaged when they clearly aren't. As someone who grew up in a low income neighborhood with predominately African-Americans and Hispanics, it's insulting when someone like this is trying to squint really hard to find an inadequacy in their life. You can try to get the disadvantaged designation, but good luck explaining that.
 
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May 8, 2014
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I lived the first 7 years of my life with an annual family income of less than $10k, and the following 6 years of my life with an income of less than $50k and I didn't put disadvantaged on my AMCAS application.
 
May 4, 2015
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Yes you are disadvantaged. Are you as disadvantaged as someone growing up on the streets of Detroit or Delhi? No, but you are still disadvantaged relative many other applicants. Follow the advice of others and include the info for AMCAS, then write a good story about your family's lack of income and the challenges you overcame as a result in your essays on the topic.

My upbringing was opposite of yours: very poor early then my parents went to college and started to do better financially (and very well after I went to college). I'm sure there would be naysayers for my situation as well. Also, don't worry if you never took free lunches or other assistance. My family was well below the poverty line and my Father never let us accept any government assistance. That has nothing to do with a disadvantaged SES, only whether or not your family took assistance.

People who say high school and college years are not formative are nuts (or just can't imagine being 40). Remember the people evaluating your application are older and look back on college and medical school as formative years, let alone high school.
I tend to agree with this to an extent because even if you grew up poor, you never end up realizing it to the highest extent as when you arrive college and have to worry your @*** off about paying tuition let alone living.
 
May 4, 2015
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I lived the first 7 years of my life with an annual family income of less than $10k, and the following 6 years of my life with an income of less than $50k and I didn't put disadvantaged on my AMCAS application.
why would you do that? unless like you grew up in a third world country where such an income put you in upper middle class or something.
 
May 4, 2015
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By this logic, every one in the world is disadvantaged. OP is disadvantaged compared to many applicants, sure, but saying that really means nothing. Is someone disadvantaged if they make 500k vs someone who makes 750k? Sure they are, but you'll look like a moron for trying for that angle. By all accounts, OP has led a cushy life and lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood.

I don't mean to be riled up about it, but it's insulting when people want to claim disadvantaged when they clearly aren't. As someone who grew up in a low income neighborhood with predominately African-Americans and Hispanics, it's insulting when someone like this is trying to squint really hard to find an inadequacy in their life. You can try to get the disadvantaged designation, but good luck explaining that.
honestly this is a bit offensive for the OP's situation. I too understand where you are coming from in experience but I would rather have AMCAS categorize and not show hostility towards OP because we don't know his family's situation and what they have been through. I think the OP comes across genuine.
 
May 8, 2014
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why would you do that? unless like you grew up in a third world country where such an income put you in upper middle class or something.
Because my family income was middle to middle upper class during my teenage years and both my parents have Master's degrees. I think I'm slightly disadvantaged and I definitely felt disadvantaged as a child, but not as much in my teenage years. I don't feel entirely comfortable calling myself disadvantaged when there are people out there who are working part-time/full time throughout high school and college to support themselves and their families and have experienced worse circumstances...
 
May 23, 2015
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honestly this is a bit offensive for the OP's situation. I too understand where you are coming from in experience but I would rather have AMCAS categorize and not show hostility towards OP because we don't know his family's situation and what they have been through. I think the OP comes across genuine.
Most of my response was for jvquarterback. I don't think saying something is insulting is being hostile. If you want things to be sugarcoated, this definitely isn't the place.

Also: we largely know his family situation. As @rachiie01 said, "It doesn't sound like you've really missed any opportunities because of your financial situation, just that you've thought about working more and want the benefits of having to do so."

OP seems genuine, but I also think s/he is trying to squint really hard and find some inadequacy in his/her life. I know many people *way* worse off than OP and never even thought about applying as disadvantaged. It's a slap in the face to people who are really suffering in some way.
 

Affiche

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This isn't that difficult.

Did your family receive assistance? Food stamps, free lunch, subsidized housing?
Did you have to work growing up? Not did you want to work, but did you have to?

These are questions you should be asking yourself.
 

Doug Underhill

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I don't know if all disadvantaged applicants HAD to work. I feel like many of them come from areas where youth unemployment is extremely high, or have just enough money/social services to meet their basic needs but not enough to have a good quality of life. I was part of the latter group and had a job in high school.

We had food stamps, but when everyone wanted to get pizza, you can't pay with those.
 
May 4, 2015
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OP seems genuine, but I also think s/he is trying to squint really hard and find some inadequacy in his/her life. I know many people *way* worse off than OP and never even thought about applying as disadvantaged. It's a slap in the face to people who are really suffering in some way.
That is true, it's weird though that people who are below poverty would not take the opportunity to share that on the app. It doesn't make them look any less than an average applicant; rather it shows how far they have traveled.
 
May 4, 2015
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Because my family income was middle to middle upper class during my teenage years and both my parents have Master's degrees. I think I'm slightly disadvantaged and I definitely felt disadvantaged as a child, but not as much in my teenage years. I don't feel entirely comfortable calling myself disadvantaged when there are people out there who are working part-time/full time throughout high school and college to support themselves and their families and have experienced worse circumstances...
fair enough but being disadvantaged doesn't necessarily mean you're scraping the barrel. I think your current situation is still something you could have identified as disadvantaged but that would depend on how many people are in your family. You could also have parents that have higher degrees and still be disadvantaged you know; nothing wrong with that and you are not trying to take anyone's spot. I think that if it isn't so significant, chances are that you won't even speak about it and your stats would be what will speak for you. I tend to think these categorial things as writing down what is true based off of income; you needn't think of their implications on your application.
 
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gyngyn

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That is true, it's weird though that people who are below poverty would not take the opportunity to share that on the app. It doesn't make them look any less than an average applicant; rather it shows how far they have traveled.
AMCAS does this anyway if it is not shared by the applicant.
 
May 8, 2014
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fair enough but being disadvantaged doesn't necessarily mean you're scraping the barrel. I think your current situation is still something you could have identified as disadvantaged but that would depend on how many people are in your family. You could also have parents that have higher degrees and still be disadvantaged you know; nothing wrong with that and you are not trying to take anyone's spot. I think that if it isn't so significant, chances are that you won't even speak about it and your stats would be what will speak for you. I tend to think these categorial things as writing down what is true based off of income; you needn't think of their implications on your application.
When I was filling out my applications, I thought my situation was somewhat unique and not so clear cut so I didn't want to make such a bold statement. My personal statement addresses some of the challenges I faced as a child and what I've learned from them, and the family income level I put on AMCAS should paint a decent picture of my childhood financial situation. Whether I am "disadvantaged" or not, I'll let the adcoms decide. Besides, I think my stats, although not absolutely amazing, are fairly strong and should stand by themselves regardless of my socioeconomic status.
 

LizzyM

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As I've heard it explained by a former Dean, "disadvantaged" is for applicants who started college behind their peers for lack of opportunities due to family circumstances.

Examples:
I asked a little neighbor if she'd be taking advantage of the free swimming lessons offered a couple blocks from her home during Spring break. She said she'd like to but her mother who worked in fast food did not have money for a swimsuit.
Another neighborhood kid, about 11 years old; mother is mentally ill, being raised by grandparents. Has never been to a zoo despite living in a city with a free zoo.
Kids who've never been more than 25 miles from home.
Kids who've never been on an airplane or who have never learned to drive due to finances.

Just as there are children who grow up physically stunted due to lack of food, there are kids who grow up stunted in terms of experiences and extra-curricular education because of lack of resources. I think that adcoms would like to know if you identify as one of those kids who started college somewhat stunted.
 
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May 4, 2015
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When I was filling out my applications, I thought my situation was somewhat unique and not so clear cut so I didn't want to make such a bold statement. My personal statement addresses some of the challenges I faced as a child and what I've learned from them, and the family income level I put on AMCAS should paint a decent picture of my childhood financial situation. Whether I am "disadvantaged" or not, I'll let the adcoms decide. Besides, I think my stats, although not absolutely amazing, are fairly strong and should stand by themselves regardless of my socioeconomic status.
ok that makes sense. I was thinking that you just never mentioned that you were disadvantaged and that to me seemed odd. I would probably hesitate to do the same but we've been taught to go by financial history so it isn't always cut clear. I think LizzyM's description helped clear that matter though. The rest will be decided by AMCAS.

AMCAS does this anyway if it is not shared by the applicant.
That is fair. I did not know that; thanks.
 
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Jun 24, 2013
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By all accounts, OP has led a cushy life and lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood.

As someone who grew up in a low income neighborhood with predominately African-Americans and Hispanics, it's insulting when someone like this is trying to squint really hard to find an inadequacy in their life. You can try to get the disadvantaged designation, but good luck explaining that.
For a while OP led a nice life. But OP has also led a less than cushy life.

I too grew up in neighborhoods that were predominantly poor and urm and I do not find the OPs question insulting at all. My parents paid a lot more money to eventually move out of those neighborhoods so my brothers and sisters and I could attend better schools (and I spent a lot of time watching my younger brothers and sisters so my parents could pay the rent). I had other friends whose parents spent every penny to send them to private schools. The OPs situation is similar, though not the same. Recognizing the lower SES of people like the OP doesn't diminish people in your situation (or mine). The people on the admissions committee choosing between someone who can't buy a swimsuit to take advantage of free swim lessons and the OP will give the former an edge in the process but that doesn't mean the OP isn't disadvantaged.

When you say it's all relative you are correct. I don't think there is much difference between a kid whose parents make 500k or 700k. I also don't see much difference between a kid whose parents make 5k or 7k. There are big differences between the 5-7k families, the 20-30k families (like the OP), the 50-70k families, and the 500-700k families. I don't think there is any problem with the OP saying they're at a disadvantage, and reading about how they overcame that disadvantage could potentially make for a great essay and topic for interviews.

It's unfortunate you find an insult where it seems none was intended.

Again I reccomend the OP use the AMCAS tools and address the topic in their applications.
 

Crayola227

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wow, 5k-7k? big difference to the kid I guarantee
$44 or $57 dollars per month
at the 44 dollar level, $13 can represent a day's worth of food for a child easily
homeless people will tell you they feel every quarter
this all has to do with perspective
most people imagine they're not that well off
until they learn what true poverty is
my example of eating from a dumpster.... well
then go to South America and see people living in corrugated tin shacks with dirt floors
and children picking food garbage out of a polluted stream

my point is that, let AMCAS apply whatever standard and we can use that as our objective benchmark for financially disadvantaged

I don't see financial disadvantage in this country until we're talking about finding it hard to have a roof, food, clothing, heat, medical care, you know, the basic things to be a generally healthy biological being, and pursuing higher ed because that's usually how people are going to find themselves out of poverty if that's where they are