There are two BIG reasons why financing this specialized year of pre-requisites needs your attention. A post-bacc student is NOT a graduate student, and a post-bacc certificate is NOT a graduate certificate. What this means is that you can’t pay for a post-bacc the same way you can pay for medical school.
Even those with 100% GI Bill (which is not everyone) only get 4 years of coverage, so you need to decide now whether or not to save it all for med school or use it for your 1-2 years of post-bacc. If you’re savvy or fortunate enough to be able to finance this year on your own, that’s great, but most people don’t have $30-40k (or more) socked away when they make the decision to go after a post-bacc.
When considering financial aid for a year or two of post-bacc education, there are a few things you’ll have to do. First, figure out how much you CAN pay for out of pocket. This also includes rent and living expenses like groceries, utilities, and childcare. If your partner is working and is willing to help support you, factor that in as well. Also don’t forget to factor in any disability you may bee receiving after leaving service.
Next, look into any scholarships and grants you may be eligible for. I lay out some options on our resources page, but definitely look into whether or not your school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program or whether or not it offers any special aid to veterans specifically. You can generally find out all you need to know by contacting your school’s financial aid office and its veterans services office, if it has one.
Next, fill out the FAFSA just like you would at the start of any college degree program. The financial aid office of your institution will then make you an offer for a direct unsubsidized federal loan in the amount deemed appropriate based on your need. Keep in mind, this will NOT cover everything–my offer from Goucher was less than $10k for the whole 12 month program.
Finally, a private loan will fill in the gaps that your personal funds, federal aid, and any additional scholarships and grants can’t. I should note that my loan came through Wells Fargo by way of USAA, and I’ve been generally satisfied with them, but there are tons of other options available.
A good place to start is via the Consumer Advocate student loan database, which has a feature that allows you to search for your school and see which lenders work with that school and if they have any special terms or perks. It’s also worth your time to do some basic Google searches regarding the top-rated student lenders in a given year (such as these lists from The Balance and US News), as they can change based on rates, customer service value, and new terms that may make them more or less appealing to students. Do note that different sites may have different methods they use to rank their referred lenders, so make sure you read their reviews and think about what qualities are most important to you.
Last but not least, the one thing I’d recommend anyone do, at any point, is speak to a professional financial advisor if you can. As a fellow veteran, I adore USAA and I have had great experiences with them, but obviously feel free to stick with whichever financial institution you trust and are comfortable with. Whether you really need to sit down and map everything out or just need someone to help explain the nitty gritty of the loan and financial planning process, a certified professional can take a lot of stress off your shoulders. This clearly isn’t 100% necessary, but something that can make the process a little less terrifying and a lot more seamless. After all, knowledge is power!
In summary, paying for your post-bacc year will require a few steps:
- Comb through your personal budget and figure out what you and your family can afford to put towards 1-2 years of (likely private) college education.
- Figure out if you are eligible for any scholarships or grants.
- Complete your FAFSA and review your offer from your school’s financial aid office for eligible financial aid.
- Figure out how much of the bill (and living expenses) cannot be covered by the above and look into a private student loan to fill in the gaps.
- Touch base with a certified financial advisor for answers to any and all questions about budgeting, the loan procurement and repayment process, etc.
My last piece of advice here would be to definitely shop around for the best rates and terms based on your individual circumstances. Start as early as possible so you have time to talk to lenders and make sure you understand what you’re signing up for!
*This post is not in any way sponsored by an outside party. All resources and products are recommended based on our own experiences and those of current and former students. We do not receive any reimbursement in any form for mentions or recommendations.