When you have decided to attend a medical billing and coding school, the first and early step in the process is to secure a financial aid for you education. Financial aid for your course can be loan, scholarship or grant from either government or other public and private institutions. This article will give you an overview of the types and sources of financial aids, how to go about applying for them, and also list some financial aids specifically for medical billing and coding students with links for the websites where you can find more details.
Types of Financial Aid
- Scholarships: Scholarships are usually designed for particular student populations who have demonstrated academic excellence. They don’t have to be repaid but sometimes have specific requirements to get them, such as recipients having to give a presentation or attend a specific program.
- Grants: These federal and state government awards are usually distributed based on FAFSA information and focus on students who can demonstrate the need for financial aid. Like scholarships, grants also don’t have to be repaid.
- Federal Loans: The federal government awards loans based on FAFSA information which can be a subsidized, limited to need-based undergraduates, or unsubsidized, which are not need based.
- Private Loans: These are the loans from banks and credit unions which are available to all students based on your credit history. These offerings vary based on marketplace changes and usually come with higher interest rates than federal loans. Private loans are often harder to get and require either great credit or a cosigner as guaranter.
Sources of Financial Aid
Financial Aid is available from a variety of sources:
- Federal Financial Aid: Provided by the U.S. Department of Education, federal aid programs lend billions of dollars each year. FAFSA information determines how this aid is distributed. Federal aid includes grants, work-study programs, subsidized loans, and unsubsidized loans. Anyone with a Social Security number may apply for aid.
- State Financial Aid: Many states offer financial aid through their departments of education. State loans have interest rates and repayment options similar to federal loans, but they are mostly available to in-state students.
- Financial Aid from School: Many colleges and universities provide financial aid to their medical billing and coding students . These institutions may offer grants or scholarships which are determined by FAFSA information. School aid is often available only in small amounts, so students usually need to find other forms of aid to supplement.
- Financial Aid from a Non-profit or Private Organization: Many organizations offer scholarships or grants to help students pay for college or career school. Some non-profit organizations pay only for books, while some large corporations pay for an entire year of courses. Funding organizations have complete discretion over the aid requirements and you would have to check your eligibility for each of these separately.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) offers a variety of federal grants to students attending four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools. Students have to submit the FAFSA in order to qualify, and grant funds only need to be repaid if recipients stop qualifying for the grant. This generally occurs when grant recipients withdraw from college before the academic year ends.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), is the first step in finding financial aid for medical billing and coding schools. The application opens on October 1st of each year, and information from FAFSA helps government and some private lenders determine eligiblity criteria for students to receive financial aid. Aid options include federal loans, grants, and work-study programs, and can help recipients fund their higher education.
FAFSA aid is often reserved for students who demonstrate financial need, but some may qualify based on social background or academic merit. The government decides how much money to lend qualifying students.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants:
Who Can Apply: Awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial
need and who have not earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree
Amount: Upto $4,000
Who Can Apply: Awarded to undergraduate, post baccalaureate, or graduate students who are
enrolled in programs designed to prepare them to teach in a high-need field at the elementary or secondary school level
Amount: Up to $3,752
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants:
Who Can Apply: Awarded to students whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S.
armed forces and died as a result of performing military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11
Amount: Up to $5,717
Many states offer grants to students who are attending a school in-state. These funds are intended for students with financial need, but they are harder to earn than federal grants, due in part to their residential restrictions. Check the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators website for more information specific to your state.
Scholarships are generally aimed at specific populations, such as Native American students or those studying certain fields. Medical billing and coding scholarships are available from various funders and range in amounts. They don’t need to be repaid, making them one of the best options for financial aid.
American Health Information Management Association Merit Scholarships
Who Can Apply: AHIMA members currently enrolled with at least 24 credits earned and 6 remaining, and a 3.5 GPA.
Amount: $1,000 to $2,500
Arizona Chapter of HIMSS Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students in good standing who are attending an accredited Arizona institution.
Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions Scholarship of Excellence
Who Can Apply: ASAHP members who have completed at least one term of study at any degree level.
Georgia Health Information Management Association Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Georgia residents enrolled in an accredited health information management (HIM) program who are active in the organization and have a 3.5 GPA.
Greater Illinois Chapter of HIMSS Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students who are enrolled in a degree program in an accredited college or university in Illinois
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Organization members at any degree level. Undergraduates must be at least juniors.
HIMSS Steve Lieber Innovator Scholarship
Who Can Apply: HIMSS members who have shown a capacity for innovation in healthcare information management.
Houston Area Health Information Management Association Scholarship
Who Can Apply: HAHIMA members residing in the Houston area who are in their second year of an accredited HIM program.
New Jersey Health Information Management Association Kathleen A. Frawley Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Members of AHIMA who are residents of or studying in New Jersey. Must have completed at least 12 credits and have a 3.0 undergrad or 3.5 graduate GPA.
NYHIMA Returning Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: NYHIMA members who are returning to school to advance their careers. Must have completed at least 12 credits and have a 3.0 GPA.
Mary M. Zannis Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Residents of New York enrolled in HIM programs in the state with a 3.0 GPA. Must be members of the New York Health Information Management Association and have competed at least 12 credits.
Richard P. Covert, Ph.D., LFHIMSS Scholarship for Management Systems
Who Can Apply: Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) members at any degree level. Undergraduates must be at least juniors.
Robert D. Kruse Memorial Scholarship Fund for Allied Health Professionals
Who Can Apply: Full-time students in their final year with a GPA of 2.5 or higher.
Sarah Bush Lincoln Volunteer Guild Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Illinois residents in an accredited program with a 3.5 GPA.
Amount: varies by year
South Florida Chapter of HIMSS Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students in an South Florida accredited undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral program related to the health information or management systems field
Virginia Chapter of HIMSS Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students in any Virginia accredited college/university related to healthcare, the management of information systems and affiliated professions
Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Kentucky college students and certain high school students who are enrolled in college coursework
Scholarships may be the best choice for aspiring medical billing and coding students, but they may not cover all of their education expenses. Most students have to take out loans to supplement their other financial aid which is borrowing money which has to be repaid with interest later. Student loans can come from the federal government, from private sources such as a bank or financial institution, or from other organizations. Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, usually have more benefits than loans from banks or other private sources.
Below are the direct loan programs available from Federal government:
Direct Subsidized Loans:
Who Can Apply: undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education at a college or career school
Amount: Up to $5,500
Direct Unsubsidized Loans:
Who Can Apply: undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students; financial need is not required
Amount: Up to $20,500
Direct PLUS Loans:
Who Can Apply: parents who are borrowing money to pay for their dependent undergraduate child’s education, and for graduate or professional degree students; financial need is not required
Amount: Up to cost of attendance less other financial aid received
Private loans come from banks, credit unions, or other private lenders, and recipients often need high credit scores or a cosigner. These loans come with relatively high variable interest rates and strict repayment plans. Federal loans, on the other hand, have lower interest rates, and sometimes offer options for forgiveness or cancellation.
Federal student loans come with a few different repayment options, designed to make sure borrowers are able to pay them back in full. The standard repayment plan begins six months after graduation and assumes that borrowers can pay back their entire loan in 120 months.
For borrowers who take out larger loans or have low-paying jobs, the U.S. Department of Education offers an income-driven repayment plan. Under this plan, monthly payments depend on how much the recipient earns. The higher their income, the more borrowers are expected to pay each month.
Another option is a direct consolidation loan, in which student loans from all lenders combine into one larger loan, leaving borrowers with just one payment per month. These loans can end up costing more in the long run, as they accrue interest, but they can make repayment simpler and more manageable.
While we have introduced all the major avenues for you to get a financial aid and earn your medical billing and coding credential, you should know that this is just the beginning in your journey to get the aid. You would have to identify the best options from these and apply early in order to secure the aid. We wish you all the best in your search for medical billing and coding education financial aid.