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There are many sources of financial assistance available to help students finance their medical education. These include three basic types of aid: grants, scholarships and loans. The difference in definition between grants, scholarships and loans is important to consider. Grants are outright monetary gifts that do not have to be repaid. While most grants are need-based (awarded to economically disadvantaged students), some may be provided for another specific purpose with need not as the primary consideration. Scholarships are aid sources that also do not require repayment. They are often referred to as merit scholarships when they are awarded on a basis of academic excellence, research ability, enriching qualities or some other special eligibility criteria. Financial need may also be a criterion used in the selection process for some scholarships, particularly those awarded with institutional funds. When financial need is considered, scholarships are often referred to as need-based scholarships. Finally, loans are the third kind of aid sources which must be repaid, usually with interest, and over a specified period of time (10-30 years) after graduation. Most loans for medical school are from federal sources, although collegiate and/or private loans are also available to help.
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