Attending Medical School on the Cheap by Bill Johnson, DDS and Student Doctor Network staff Its no secret that for many students, enrolling in medical school today can mean incurring a mountain of debt over the course of four yearsliterally hundreds of thousands of dollars at many institutions. What remains a secret to many, however, are options by which aspiring doctors can mitigate or even eliminate their medical school education debt. 1. National Health Service Corps: The NHSC sponsors a loan repayment program for primary care physicians and other healthcare providers who agree to practice in federally designated underserved areas for a fixed period of time. The NHSC is a repayment program, not a scholarship, which means students remain initially responsible for medical school costs. For those selected, the NHSC LRP will repay up to $50,000 of student loan debt in exchange for a two-year commitment. For more information: visit http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov/members/loan_repayors/ 2. The Armed Forces: The United States military offers a number of scholarships to medical students willing to commit to time in uniform following their education and training periods. In order to receive these scholarships, candidates must submit application packets and meet established criteria for direct commission as officers in the United States military. Those selected receive up to four years of full tuition scholarships, with additional stipends for living expenses and ancillary costs, in exchange for a period of service in the chosen branch of service. For more information: visit http://www.goarmy.com/amedd/hpsp.jsp/, http://www.navy.com/careers/healthcare/physicians/, or http://www.airforce.com/education/healthcare/moneyForSchool.php. 3. Scholarships: Just like in college, scholarship money abounds for those able to find it. Merit scholarships are offered by many medical schools, but these awards are often very challenging to obtain at the professional-school level for all but the most highly qualified students. Need-based and minority incentive scholarships are also awarded at some institutions, based on finances and ethnic heritage, as well as numerous private scholarships awarded according to criteria determined by the sponsoring agencies. For more information: contact your institutions financial aid office, or visit http://www.fastweb.com. 4. MD/PhD Programs: A limited number of dual-degree MD/PhD openings are available each year nationwide. Some are federally funded by the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), while the remainder are funded privately by the sponsoring institutions. Candidates accepted into these programs complete both MD professional doctorate and research-based PhD degree programs. These positions are quite competitive, but typically provide full-tuition scholarships as well as stipends for living and incidental expenses. For more information: visit http://www.mdphds.org/ or http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/InstPredoc/PredocOverview-MSTP.htm 5. Family Resources: Finally,for those with access, theres still no substitute for tapping the family tree for help with medical school expenses. Whether gifts, loans, or some combination thereof, for those willing to ask, successfully enlisting an affluent family member can provide an extra shot in the arm when its needed most. Or, if all else fails, just marry rich. For more information: sorry, no such luck on this one.