Furthering your education can feel like just one more additional expense, but that doesn’t mean a certificate or diploma is out of reach. Financial aid can drop the cost of getting your degree in medical coding and billing.
Types of Financial Aid to Apply for
There are two major types of financial aid: grants/scholarships, which don’t require reimbursement, and student loans that have to be paid back.
Sources of Financial Aid
Many colleges and institutions have their own funds that you can apply for, whether it’s a scholarship, grant, or loan. There are also state government and federal government sources, as well.
Breaking Down the Options
Grants are the most desirable because you don’t have to pay them back. The best known option is the Pell Grant.
Student loans help cover the cost of school, but they must be repaid over a designated period of time and usually with a high interest rate. One you should be aware of is The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, which is directly through the U.S. Department of Education. Also, there is the Sallie Mae Career Training Smart Option Loan.
These loans are usually lower than the market rate, so the payback isn’t as intimidating. They do not reduce the cost of schools; they are just there to help with the immediate cost.
Merit scholarships come directly from the school, and you have to apply for them. The scholarships are awarded based on certain criterion that are generally specific to the school.
Scholarships specific to medical billing and coding
One scholarship program that is particular to medical coding and billing education is the American Health Information Management Association. It offers scholarships based on academic performance to those getting degrees in health information administration and health information technology. You must have at least one full semester with a minimum of six hours of class study remaining in your courses and have at least a 3.5 GPA to be considered.
There is also the National Health Service Corps Scholarship that provides eligible students with the cost of tuition and other fees associated with your education, including a small stipend.
The Healthcare Information Management Systems Scholarship awards students pursuing either a master’s degree or doctorate in healthcare information management up to $5,000. It’s a one-time monetary scholarship, and the student must be a junior to apply.
There are also regional scholarships available if you are going into the healthcare management or healthcare information technology fields, depending on where you live or attend school.
Get the Help You Need
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical billers made an average of $42,750 in 2021, with the top 10 percent earning closer to $59,750. Medical coders in 2021 averaged $48,310, with the top 10 percent earning $74,200. Both medical billing and coding are rewarding career paths to choose, and receiving financial aid can be an added bonus.
Discuss your options with the financial aid officer at your school of choice. Your school’s financial aid officer will be able to point you in the right direction. There is a lot of financial aid money out there to help you, so don’t let expenses get in the way of the career you want.
Reference: Medical Assistants, BLS