The ultimate guide to financing your medical school education

Every year, nearly 3,000 students enter Canada’s 17 medical schools. Many of them – perhaps including you – have dreamed for years of bettering the world through their practice of medicine.

Yet your dreams of practising medicine probably didn’t include the high cost of getting there. The median debt for medical school graduates is $100,000, with 41% of students reporting debt of $120,000 or more, according to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada .

Add this to undergraduate education debt – $28,000 for the average Canadian university graduate – and you are looking at a hefty sum you’ll likely have to start paying back once you’re no longer considered a student.

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$20K to The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Award , for instance, provides $5,000 to one medical student from each Canadian medical school, while the Canadian Federation of Medical Students-MD Financial Management Leadership Award offers $2,000. From 2017 to 2021, the CMA Foundation is giving an $8,500 bursary and a $15,000 award to every medical school in Canada.

Bursaries tend to have application deadlines in the late fall or winter, so make sure you look for these and get your applications in early.

However, most scholarships and bursaries won’t cover the entire cost of med school. You’ll likely have to find additional funding streams, such as government grants, government loans or other types of loans.

Maximize government grants

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Grants are an excellent option for education funding because you do not need to pay back what you receive. Canada Student Grants provide financial assistance for post-secondary students and are distributed to qualified students based on financial need.

Seek out grants from the federal and provincial/territorial governments. The amount you may receive depends not only on financial need but also payday loans in Murrells Inlet no credit check on the province where you attend medical school, and it’s difficult to determine how much you might receive until you apply.

Some grants are specially designed for certain students, such as those with financial dependants, students with disabilities, and First Nations and Inuit students. But most grant money is allocated based on student financial need and is available to all Canadians.

Even if you do receive grants (and even if that’s in addition to scholarships and/or bursaries), you will likely still have to borrow to finance the rest of your medical school costs. This next step is the most stressful part of financing: taking on debt.

Get government loans

Canada Student Loans are available for full-time study at designated schools, including some post-secondary institutions outside Canada, to students who meet the eligibility criteria. As of , these loans are now interest-free until six months after you’ve finished full-time school, at which time repayments will start.

What’s more, you get a 15% federal tax credit each year on any interest you paid on Canada Student Loans. You can take advantage of this tax credit as long as you owe some income tax; if you don’t, you can carry the credit forward for up to five years and use it at a better time.

Family physicians and residents in family medicine who practise in remote and underserved areas may be eligible for repayment assistance, which reduces the balance they owe on Canada Student Loans.

Before you apply for any financial aid, consult an advisor. Ideally, this person should specialize in financing medical school studies. From the application process through medical school and your residency journey, an expert in the financial services industry can help you to get the most out of your funding options and to manage and pay off your debt when you’re ready to.