Many students apply through the Federal Student Aid Program
If you are thinking about career training, and you are concerned about financial aid, you are not alone. Many people who enroll in medical assistant training—or any kind of higher education—are in need of financial assistance to meet the tuition payments. For this reason, most schools have Financial Aid Advisors who will help you figure out your options. This article will walk you through some of the steps you will need to get started.
Step 1: Meet with Financial Aid Advisors at your potential medical assistant schools
Most schools that offer medical assistant training programs also have a Financial Aid department to help students navigate the various financial aid options. If you are considering more than one school, set up appointments and tours at all the schools you are researching. See What to Look for in a Career Training School to get the most out of your school tours.
At these introductory meetings, the Financial Aid Advisor will explain which financial aid packages the school can accept. Most people want to find a school that participates in the Federal Student Aid programs, since the federal programs give you more options for funding your education. Also, if you are applying under the GI Bill®, find out what services the school offers and what benefits it can accept.
Word of advice: At this initial meeting, you should fill out the schools’ application forms, but be sure not to sign anything that commits you financially to the school. You still need to find out if you will get financial aid before committing to the school.
Step 2: Prepare and submit the FAFSA
The next step is to prepare and submit the Free Application Form for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form can be completed online, although paper applications are also available. The FAFSA is the application that determines the amount of financial aid that will be available to you. When you begin to work on the FAFSA, be sure to have the following ready:
- Social Security Number (or alien registration number)
- Your federal income tax returns and W-2’s
- Bank statements and records of investments
- Records of untaxed income, if any
- The list of schools that you have applied to
Within about 3 weeks of submitting your FAFSA, you should receive a Student Aid Report. (This report can be confusing, but keep in mind that the report is NOT the amount of aid you will get; it’s simply a report for the schools to use.) Your Student Aid Report will also be sent to the schools that you listed. The schools will use this report to determine the financial aid package they can offer to you. If you don’t hear from the schools within a week or two of receiving your Student Aid Report, just pick up the phone and call the schools.
Step 3: Look into other financial aid options for medical assistant training
If the schools are not offering you enough financial aid through the Federal Student Aid program, you may be able to find other sources of financial aid. For example, your state may offer benefits for post-secondary education. Check the state’s Department of Human Services, Unemployment Offices, or Department of Public Welfare. These departments sometimes offer incentives to go back to school.
As a student, you may also be eligible for tax credits, which means that you may owe fewer taxes as a student. This won’t pay your tuition, but it will help you save a little extra money. The Tax Benefits for Education Information Center provides more information on this option.
If you are using your GI benefits, check with your Veterans Affairs office to verify which benefits you are eligible to use. Or you can call the main Veterans Affairs Office at 800-827-1000 to get connected to your local office.
Step 4: Select which medical assistant school makes the most sense for you
Once you know the amount of financial aid you will receive from each school, the next step is to select the school you would like to attend. Remember, when selecting a school, the financial aid offerings should be only part of the decision. You should also consider the job placement rate for medical assistants, whether the medical assistant program is accredited, how long the program lasts, the experience level of the instructors, and whether there is an internship program. If you did not ask these questions during your tour, just give the school a call, or visit again. You want to take your time and make sure you are picking the best school for you.
We hope this article has helped you in understanding the process of applying for financial aid for your medical assistant program. If you are having concerns or questions over the application and the options, remember that the schools’ financial aid advisors are there to help. The advisors want to help you find the best way to finance your education so that you can get a good start on your new career.
This article was provided by the Harris School of Business. Our school offers an accredited medical assistant program, as well as other career-focused programs designed to get you started in a new career within one year’s time. The advisors in our Financial Aid department are committed to helping you find financial aid options and get you on your way to achieving your educational goals. Contact us at any time for more information.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.