Student-loan debt or scholarships aren’t the only med school options

Finding ways to pay for medical, dental or veterinary school is challenging and can often result in struggling to make ends meet during school and thousands of dollars of student-loan debt after graduation.

According to healthcare career counselor SSG Trevor Sturgill, with the 6th Medical Recruiting Battalion, there are options available than can provide money to students while attending school and significantly reduce, or eliminate, those financial burdens after they graduate.

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“The first few years after a person graduates from medical school, they are still in learning mode,” Sturgill explained. “They have little control over their career and are just trying to figure out what they have gotten themselves into.”

Sturgill said the Army Medical Corps provide financial relief during that time and will provide additional training and leadership opportunities that aren’t available in the civilian world.

“When you put it all together, getting a stipend while you’re going to school, getting your student-loan debt paid and getting valuable training and experience at the start of your career, in exchange for a few years of service to your country, is a great option for a lot of people,” Sturgill noted.

“Several of these programs are available for Army Reserve service,” he added. “This allows a person to work in a civilian capacity in their own community and serve one weekend a month and for a few weeks during the summer.”

He outlined a few of those programs

“The Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program (MDSSP) provides a monthly stipend of more than $2,400 to individuals accepted into an accredited medical program,” Sturgill said. “The MDSSP commitment is a one-year obligation in the Army Reserve for each six months, or partial six-month period, of financial assistance.”

The Reserve Component Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (RCHPLRP) provides repayment of outstanding student-loan debt up to $250,000, according to Sturgill, while the Specialized Training Assistance Program (STRAP) provides a $2,466 monthly stipend throughout a participant’s residency. In exchange for STRAP benefits, participants serve one year in the Army Reserve for each six months of stipend they receive.

“It’s possible,” Sturgill explained, “to receive both STRAP benefits and the RCHPLRP incentive.”
For those interested in serving full-time, Sturgill said the Army’s Financial Assistance Program(FAP) provides an annual grant of up to $45,000 and a monthly stipend of more than $2,400 in exchange for two years for the first year of FAP participation plus six months of service for each additional six months of benefits.

“The Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program will repay up to $40,000 of qualified loans annually for a maximum of three years” Sturgill explained. “The service obligation is one year for each year of benefits with a minimum period of two years on active duty.”

Bonuses are available as well

But the financial incentives don’t stop there according to Sturgill. The Army also offers bonuses to some qualified candidates.

“Fully-qualified active-duty applicants, who are board certified, are eligible for Board Certification Pay (BCP),” he noted. “That bonus is paid on a prorated monthly basis and officers can receive BCP in addition to other qualifying incentives. In addition, active-duty applicants who possess a current, valid, unrestricted license, are eligible for Health Profession Officer Incentive Pay (IP) in addition to other qualifying incentives.

“It’s easy to understand what student-loan repayment and stipends can mean to a person’s future,” Sturgill said. “But what isn’t easy to understand is what serving as an Army healthcare officer will mean. I can answer questions about the financial programs and what it takes to be considered for an Army healthcare career. Also, I can put them in touch with people who are already serving in their career field who can tell them what it has been like for them.”

Sturgill said those interested can contact him directly with any questions they have about the programs or about Army life. Reach him by text or phone at (702) 908-7463 or by email at trevor.w.sturgill.mil@army.mil.