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Financial Aid FAQs

Does VCOM offer scholarships?

VCOM offers scholarships to students in each year of medical school. In addition, VCOM keeps a current list of outside scholarships that our students have received in the past.  However, at the medical school level, nearly all large scholarships are service contracts, such as the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program and the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program.

What is a service contract?

Essentially, a service contract is an agreement to work in an organization later in return for receiving a scholarship now.   The two most common service contracts are from the National Health Service Corps http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/scholarships/index.html and the US Military has the Military Health Professions Scholarship Program.  Each branch of the military has a program, so check on line for information on each branch, or contact a recruiter in your area.

Are the numbers of scholarships at VCOM similar to those in my undergraduate school?

VCOM has a number of selective scholarships and the odds of receiving one if you apply are really good.  Overall though, the number of scholarships at VCOM are pretty limited. The key to finding scholarships is to check the national scholarship search websites like www.fastweb.com, and the Osteopathic-specific-scholarship sites such as www.studentdo.org and www.aacom.org.  Also plan to check with the Osteopathic Societies of the state you regard as your home and the state where you attended undergraduate school, since the rules about who can apply differ by states.  The states Osteopathic organizations which offer scholarships during a review which took place in 2013 include: Virginia, Alabama, Colorado Springs, Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington State, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York.  For a list of all the State Osteopathic Medical Associations:  http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/about/affiliates/Pages/state-osteopathic-medical-associations.aspx

What is the average student loan indebtedness of graduates from VCOM?

The Auburn campus enrolled its first class this past summer, so the Auburn campus doesn’t have an average student loan indebtedness level yet.  The average student loans borrowed while at VCOM for VCOM-Virginia’s and VCOM-Carolina’s class of 2015 was an average of $213,231 borrowed by 325 students.  VCOM prides itself on being one of the least expensive medical schools in the nation as backed up by US News and World Report. (http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/slideshows/10-private-medical-schools-with-an-affordable-price-tag/8)

In addition, Auburn, AL, Blacksburg/Christiansburg, VA and Spartanburg, SC are three of the least expensive places to live.  Students are innovative, creative and frugal in their spending and a number of students are able to avoid borrowing altogether.

Is my parent’s information required on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

As a graduate student, the only information required on the FAFSA is your own at VCOM.  If you see prompts as you complete the FAFSA indicating that “for some medical students, parents’ information is required or recommended,” you can disregard those prompts and not list your parents’ information.  VCOM does not participate in financial aid programs that would require parental information be listed on the FAFSA.

Alternatively, if you feel some compelling other reason to list your parent’s information on the FAFSA, VCOM is more than happy to ignore it when we process FAFSA results.

What’s the school code for each campus?

VCOM Virginia’s school code for the FAFSA is G37093; VCOM Carolina’s school code for the FAFSA is E01970; VCOM Auburn’s school code for the FAFSA is E40408. 

What month’s best for me to complete the FAFSA?

The best month to file your FAFSA is in April or May, a few weeks after you’ve completed and filed your federal income tax return for the year.  

 

Will a copy of my income tax return be required with my application?

VCOM does not routinely require you file a copy of your federal income tax return with the financial aid office.

What is the maximum amount I can borrow while I’m at VCOM?

The maximum amount you can borrow while attending VCOM is the Cost of Attendance for each year you are enrolled as established by VCOM’s Financial Aid Committee and updated each year.  Typically this amount is from a combination of the Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan and the Graduate PLUS loan programs.

For the Unsubsidized loan, there is one federal aggregate (lifetime) limit of $224,000 that includes loan amounts you borrowed from that program as an undergraduate or prior-to-VCOM-graduate student. If you need money over and above that, (and this includes the situation where you need to borrow money to help with living expenses in addition to VCOM tuition each year), you’ll have also to borrow the Graduate PLUS loan.

Based on current regulations, you will have to pass a credit check each year in order to receive the Graduate PLUS loan.  The Graduate PLUS loan can make up the difference between the annual unsubsidized loan limit and the cost of attendance.

Will I qualify for subsidized Direct Loan while I’m at VCOM?

Unfortunately, Congress discontinued eligibility for subsidized loans for graduate students in 2011-2012.

What month will financial aid awards be available?

Financial aid awards are available for VCOM students in June and July of each year.

Will financial aid awards be mailed to me?

No. Notification of financial aid awards is electronically accomplished through links provided to your VCOM email account.   VCOM uses Net Partner as the financial aid office interface where students can view documents received and awards made (and to accept financial aid awards).

What is the process for applying for financial aid?

The process for applying for financial aid involves completing the FAFSA found at www.fafsa.gov and listing the VCOM campus of your choice’s school code and completing a short VCOM financial aid application.  Instructions on completing the VCOM financial aid application are sent to students’ VCOM email address when the online form becomes available for the coming school year. This usually occurs in January-March of each year for aid the next fall.

What is the process for getting a student loan?

Details on the process for getting a student loan are provided with the financial aid award notification email sent as notification of a financial aid award.  In general terms there are 4 steps:

Receive the Financial Aid Award Notification email from the VCOM financial aid office;

  1. “Accept,” reduce or decline your financial aid award in Net Partner;
  2. Complete Entrance Counseling at www.studentloans.gov;
  3. Complete a Master Promissory Note for the Unsubsidized loan at www.studentloans.gov  if you are accepting that loan;
  4. Complete a Master Promissory Note for the Graduate PLUS loan at www.studentloans.gov  if you are accepting that loan;
  5. Attend an In-Person entrance counseling session. 

What documents other than the FAFSA will be required for my financial aid application?

The only other document needed is the VCOM financial Aid Application, which will be available in Net Partner.   Students will be given information on how to access this when they get their VCOM email address. 

Will my outside scholarship automatically reduce my student loan amounts?

Any required reduction will not be automatic.   Students are required to notify the financial aid office of any scholarship they expect to receive.  Adjustments of financial aid may be needed, based on federal rules and will be determined on a case by case basis.

Will my financial aid cover my moving expenses to VCOM’s city?

Federal regulations require students Cost of Attendance (COA) start on the first day of school, not include any breaks or time away on break, and end on the last day of each school year.    Therefore, since you need to move before the first day of school, moving expenses are not part of COA.  However, if you create a budget for yourself to include this, you can reimburse yourself if your budget allows this.

How much can I borrow the first year?

For your first year, you can borrow the total cost of attendance (COA). For more information, please refer to Cost of Attendance

Can I use my loan money to pay for my upcoming marriage? Or to support my spouse and children?

Federal regulations require that a schools financial aid COA include only tuition, modest and reasonable living expenses for the student only.  Student loans should not be used to pay for weddings or to support a spouse or children.

Can I get food stamps while I’m attending VCOM?

Since federal rules require food to be included in the amounts we consider to be in the student’s Cost of Attendance, it is expected your financial aid funding would partially be used for buying food.

In South Carolina and Alabama, you would have to have a 20 hour per week job in order to qualify for food stamps so medical students typically do not qualify.  For current or additional information go to:

SC Food Stamp Program and Application
http://www.sciway.net/gov/sc-food-stamps.html

Alabama Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
http://dhr.alabama.gov/services/food_assistance/food_assistance_division.aspx

Food stamps are federal benefits, and rules regarding eligibility and benefit levels are set by the federal government. However, each state is responsible for administering food stamps to its residents.

To find out if you are eligible for food stamps or how many you can receive, use the SC food stamp eligibility calculator. Please note that it is NOT an application for food stamps, but it is a good way to determine if you may be eligible to receive these benefits.  There is also a calculator that can be used for SC, VA or AL.  You can access it here:  http://www.snap-step1.usda.gov/fns/

Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/1593

General Program Requirements
In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must be a resident of the state of Virginia and fall into one of two groups: (1) those with a current bank balance (savings and checking combined) under $2,001, or (2) those with a current bank balance (savings and checking combined) under $3,001 who share their household with a person or persons age 60 and over, or with a person with a disability (a child, your spouse, a parent, or yourself).

Once I have accepted my loans in Net Partner, when will my student loan funding arrive?

Your student loans arrive the first couple of weeks of class and again 6 months later.

Does it come to me directly, or to VCOM?

 No, it does not come to you directly. The funds come directly to VCOM from the lender in your name. Your account is then credited and any tuition or charges due are paid. If there is a remainder, or if you have borrowed living expense money, those funds are forwarded to an account you have specified – such as direct deposit. If you did not sign up for direct deposit, then a check will be made out to you, which you can pick up in the business office.

How often do funds arrive?

Once every 6 months, assuming you continue making satisfactory academic progress and remain in good academic standing.

How can I tell when my next disbursement will be made?

For the first year, disbursement to start the first week and approximately six months later, in January of the following year.

What do I have to do in order to qualify for my next student loan disbursement?

For the 2nd disbursement in an academic year, which comes in the spring (January), you have to remain a full time student at VCOM and make satisfactory academic progress. Each year in the spring you will need to complete a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for aid for the next fall. Financial aid funds are not disbursed during student breaks or holidays from school.

Can I get Medicaid while I’m attending VCOM?

Cost of attendance figures and financial aid funding include the average costs for health insurance premiums and incidental medical costs. Therefore VCOM students do not typically apply nor do they qualify for Medicaid while attending VCOM.

South Carolina
For more information on Medicaid and qualification for South Carolina, see https://www.scdhhs.gov/income-limits for information.  

Virginia
Childless adults in Virginia are not eligible for Medicaid.  For more information on benefits for Virginia, see:  http://www.dss.virginia.gov/benefit/medical_assistance/.

Alabama
For more information on Medicaid and qualification for Alabama, see: http://www.medicaid.alabama.gov/ for more information.

 

Where can I go to in order to find out about health insurance coverage that’s required at VCOM?

Current information regarding the VCOM health insurance can be found on the website. 
Medical Insurance

A frequently asked questions PDF can be found:
http://www.vcom.edu/sites/default/files/student_services/files/medical_insurance_faq.pdf

General information regarding the insurance plan and a Summary of Benefits can be found:
https://app.hsac.com/EdwardVia

Where can I get more information about the Affordable Care Act?

www.healthcare.gov is the place to find out more about the Affordable Care Act and to enroll or check out enrollment and federal subsidies for costs for health care (depending on your family situation and income).

What do I need to do to keep my undergraduate loans in deferment while I am in medical school?

Your loan servicer should have a form on line that you can print and fill out.    Once you have filled out the form, you can bring the form to the Registrar’s office for them to complete and send it to your servicer.

How do I find out who my loan servicer is?

You can find out who your servicer is by logging in to the National Student Loan Data System or NSLDS here: https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/.Use your FSA ID and password to log in and view your loan and or grant records.  Click on the loan record that you want to know the servicers of and your servicer will be listed.