Once again I turn to my friends at OPM for what I am sure will be excellent advice. So, I am sure that many of you can relate to having a plan of the way this whole thing will go and then suddenly realizing it’s not going to work the way you wanted. Well, I had initially planned on taking about 18 to 20 credit hours per semester, perhaps more on the easier stuff here at the beginning, and because I wanted to have time to volunteer and get the bast grades possible I was going to not work while going to school for the next 4 years and just take out a personal loan through a bank ( I only need like $14K per year to live on) and then of course that wouldn’t have to be payed back until I start a residency somewhere, in which case I would have an income to make those necessary minimum payments. Anyway, I found out this past week that because of a certain credit blip I have that a loan like that at this time is not possible, so I have to come up with an alternate plan. Just a little background really quick, I am justing starting my freshman year this summer semester for my bachelor’s degree. If anyone thinks it is possible to do very very well in school full-time, volunteer, and work full-time. I would appreciate your input. Also, another concern I have about working full-time is it will change my expected family contribution from 0 to whatever and that will eliminate a lot of financial aid towards paying for school. Another question I have for perhaps those OPM members already in med school, is will I run into the same financial issues 4 years from now in needing money to live on while going to med school, or does it work differently at that stage? I know I will get some great responses, so I’ll just sit back and wait for the knowledge to roll in.

The first thing you should do is go talk to your financial aid office. Your credit “blip” should not affect your ability to take out federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans for your education. Typically, you can borrow federal money for living expenses in addition to tuition and fees. Your financial aid office should be able to give you an idea of how much you are eligible to borrow and that will let you know what the shortfall is between what you can borrow and what you need to live on. They will also be able to tell you if you are eligible for any grant or scholarship money. Assuming this is your first degree, the shortfall between what you can borrow and what you need to live on may not be that great. You may need to work part-time, however.

Also, look into what you need to do to fix your “blip” between now and medical school. Again, you will be eligible for federal loans (which are not credit dependent), but at most schools, the budgeted amount of tuition and living expenses exceeds what you can borrow each year. So, many people need to borrow from private lenders. If you can clear up your credit problem before then, that will save you from having to decide on schools based on which ones you can afford.

Good luck.

From what I remember when I had gotten financial aid through the stafford loans (subsidized and nonsubsidized) You can borrow $6600 (give or take a few dollars) your first year, and then I think it goes up to $7500 a year. There is also the Perkins Loan if you have it in your school (these are usually school specific), which is about $4,000. These are the types of loans that you don’t have to pay back until 6 months after you finish attending school (whether you get a degree or just stop attending). Personal loans for the most part don’t defer payments…so be careful if that is what are after. Then, of course, you have the Pell Grant which is, I believe, $4050 per year, and some other grants (just be sure to turn in FAFSA early).

If you have to work, I would really suggest that you look for something in the hospital…with 12 hours shifts, you can work 3 days a week and still have 4 days to do the school thing and volunteering a few hours a week.

Like Emergency stated, check out your financial aid office…also, check to see if you have a school foundation which usually provides scholarships as well.

Best of luck!


Hi there JCE. I also have another suggestion although I don’t know if this would be something you want to do…and that is to work weekends. Still, I am not sure if this would be feasible since you might have family commitments or something.

Anyway, adding to Kris’s suggestion, yes, hospitals have 12 hours shifts. If you work weekends, you could work Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The staff might even appreciate you for it!!! Also, the advantage of working weekends is that you can take your classes during the week and study without worrying that you have to be in at work at any weekday.

Finances are an issue for me as well, and so to keep a fulltime job with benefits, I work 12 hour shifts on the weekends and 8 hours on Tuesday and Friday (usually after class).

When my sister was in RN school, she worked 16 hour shifts as an LPN over the weekends. WHEW! I don’t know how she did it but because she had school, had to study, and had two little children, she really had no choice.

Anyway, good luck. I hope this helps you somehow.

Thank you all for the awesome advice. I knew you wouldn’t disappoint me. So, I have spent about literally 30 hours in the financial aid office of my community college speaking to different people and honestly THEY DON’T HAVE A CLUE!!! I can’t wait until next year when I transfer to the University of Colorado, I am sure those people know what they’re doing. I applied for federal loans for the summer term and I think I was granted enough money to attend my classes and pay for books, which I am very thankful for because I had to figure all of that out on my own. I spoke with someone there and told them that I needed more money and they said that’s all I could get because of the EFC I had for 2006/2007 on my FAFSA. When the Fall semester starts I am curious to see what I am qualified for as that semester will go off of my 2007/2008 FAFSA which my EFC shows 0. The only think is that now I am going to have to start working again and that will change my EFC again. Anyway, sorry to rant but thank you all for your suggestions, I am actually applying to every hospital in my area and I hope I can attain employment at one. I think it would be good experience and of course the schedule wouldn’t suck in terms of school. Hopefully in the next 2 years I’ll be in a position to either not work at all or just work part-time. Thanks again for everything, I am sure something will work out.

Yeah, unfortunately, financial aid offices in community colleges are much help (nor are the advisors, IMO). This is when it takes the really industrious student to find aid for school.

Hope things work out for you!


Just some food for thought - when you apply at one of the hospitals try looking into dispatching i.e. air ambulance or working in a coordination center taking patient updates from incoming medic units. This would probably allow you to study pretty much your entire shift, and it should pay fairly well.

I work full time in a 911 center (graves), and go to school full time (biology) in the afternoons and evenings. On top of that I work one or two days a month for an air ambulance service at the hospital, and do my volunteer work through my pre-med club. Recently I obtained my EMT certification, and I’m volunteering to get my patient care contact.

If you manage your time well, you should be able to do this. School can be somewhat difficult - I’ve been getting A’s in my classes, but make sure you STUDY! And keep your grades up.

Good luck!