For many aspiring medical assistants, finding a quality training program is the easy part. Community colleges and training institutes across the country have certificate, diploma, and degree programs available. And many offer their courses fully, mostly, or partially online, which makes earning a credential far more convenient. The biggest challenge for these students, however, it becomes funding their campus or online medical assistant classes.
Fortunately, medical assisting students have a number of real options out there to them to help fund their educations, including federally-sponsored financial aid, school-specific funding programs, grants, scholarships, loans and payment plans. This page is designed to walk readers through the full education funding process for medical assistant students, with useful information on all of the above-described financial aid sources – what’s available, where to find it, and how to get it.
Online Medical Assistant Programs with Financial Aid Support (2019)
There are many excellent medical assistant programs that can be completed either fully or partially online for which students can use financial aid. Proper institutional regional accreditation – i.e., schools accredited by a regional accrediting organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) – is key. That’s because federal financial aid, as well as most other types of financial aid support, is typically only available to students enrolled in regionally-accredited programs. Medical assisting programs themselves – as distinct from the schools that offer them – may also be accredited, most commonly by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and/or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Schools (ABHES). Below you’ll find a list of the top online medical assistant programs with financial aid support, starting with detailed spotlights of our top three schools.
Cost per credit for either program is $580. Total costs vary by program length and credits transferred in. Additional fees apply. The Higher Learning Commission regionally accredits both the associate degree and diploma programs.
Spotlight: Southwestern Community College
Southwestern Community College, with its main campus in Sylva, North Carolina, offers an Associate in Applied Science in Medical Assisting degree in a two-year, five-semester (includes one summer session) hybrid program format that allows students to complete 50% of the required coursework online. Tuition, activity fees and tech fees are charged together on a per-credit basis (currently $79.00 for North Carolina Residents, $271.00 for out-of-state residents). Southwestern CC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the AAS in Medical Assisting program is accredited by the CAAHEP. CAAHEP accreditation means that graduates of the AAS program may sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) certification exam to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). Southwestern additionally offers a 13-credit, fully-online Medical Assisting Basic Certificate. Graduates of the certificate program, however, are not eligible to sit for the AAMA CMA exam.
Southwestern offers prospective students a wide range financial aid information and services through its Financial Aid webpage, including Q&A videos, information on available scholarships, and more.
Spotlight: Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Minnesota State Community and Technical College offers a 37-credit Medical Assistant Diploma. The diploma program is presented in a hybrid format with most coursework available online and additional classes requiring attendance on the school’s Detroit Lakes, Minnesota campus. The program culminates with a 160-hour physician-supervised clinical experience. Tuition is charged on a per-credit basis (currently $160.70 for on-campus courses, $198.95 for courses delivered over the internet). Additional fees apply. The Higher Learning Commission regionally accredits Minnesota State Community and Technical College.
Comprehensive information on paying for the Medical Assistant Diploma program can be found on Minnesota State’s Financial Aid webpage, where students can access videos on the financial aid process, links to school financial aid contacts, and much more.
Ways to Fund Your Medical Assistant Training
Students seeking help in paying for their medical assistant education (and that’s pretty much all of them) have several resources that may be available to them that don’t include a cash infusion from their parents. Here are the four most common:
Federal Student Aid
By far the most common type of financial aid for college students, including those seeking a medical assisting education. Federal student aid, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education, is available in three forms: Loans (money to pay for school that must be paid back), grants (money awarded that does not require repayment) and work-study jobs (part-time jobs for students demonstrating financial need). The process for obtaining any of these types of aid begins by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Remember, most but not all medical assistant training programs, both online and on-campus, are eligible for federal student aid. Be sure to confirm aid eligibility with any program you are considering before enrolling.
School-Based Financial Aid
Additional funding resources for medical assistant students may be offered through the college or medical assistant training program itself. Forms of school-based financial aid are usually the same as for federal student aid (scholarships, grants and loans). Be sure to make asking about availability of school-based financial aid options a priority when considering any medical assistant training program.
A popular option offered by many medical assistant training programs that allows students to pay for their tuitions, fees and other related costs over time in weekly or monthly installments. Payment plans may or may not charge interest, although the longer the plan, the more likely interest will be charged. A one-time flat fee may be charged in place of an added interest rate. Schools often make this option available on a case-by-case basis and may require proof of financial need. Check your program for payment plan availability.
Scholarships are a great way to fund your medical assistant education, especially since – like federal grants – the funds received are not paid back. Eligibility for scholarships varies by specific scholarship, so be sure to contact your school’s financial aid office for detailed information on any scholarships that may be available for your medical assistant program. Keep reading to learn more about scholarships for medical assistant students.
Top Scholarships & Grants for Medical Assisting Students
Almost all medical
assistant education programs require either one year (certificate and
diploma programs) or two years (associate degree programs) of study
to complete. That makes them both shorter and less expensive than
most post-secondary education programs, like those for four-year
bachelor degrees. Nevertheless, medical assistant students shouldn’t
be deterred from seeking out and applying for scholarships and grants
to help fund their educations. Scholarships and grants are
available for medical assistant students, both those specifically for
medical assistant programs and those offered based on other criteria,
such as income level, ethnic background, academic achievement, and
more. However, most (but not all) scholarship programs open to
medical assistant students are limited to those enrolled in 2-year
Below is a sample of
the scholarships that medical assistant students can apply to today:
Requirements: Open to full-time students who are
U.S. residents and under a physician’s care for a
spinal cord injury, spina bifida, ostomy (ileostomy, colostomy or urostomy),
neurogenic bladder, or transverse myelitis.
Application Requirements: Must be a medical assisting student at an Alaska AAMA-accredited school. Criteria for selection include financial need, academic achievements, essay, letters of recommendation, and overall appearance of application.
Application Requirements: Applicant must be of Hispanic heritage and
attending a high school or college in San Diego County, California. Selection
criteria include financial need, scholastic determination, and
Requirements: Applicant must demonstrate financial
need, be a graduate of, or senior at, an accredited high school (GED also
acceptable), and enrolled in a regionally-accredited medical assisting program.
Sponsor: Anchorage Chapter of the Alaska Medical Assistant Society (AMAS)
Deadline: March 15
Application Requirements: Applicant must be currently enrolled in the University of Alaska Anchorage Medical Assisting program. Selection based on financial need, academic achievements, essay, letters of recommendation, and overall appearance of application.
Sponsor: Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP)
Deadline: June 11
Application Requirements: Applicants must have successfully completed at least one term (semester, quarter, etc.) in a career-entry, degree-granting program at a college or school that is an institutional member of the ASAHP. Selection based on demonstrated excellence by the applicant in his/her academic program.
Application Requirements: Must be a U.S. citizen or legal alien, a high school senior or currently enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university, and have a GPA of 3.0 or better. All students meeting these criteria may apply. However, preference will be given to students with a physical disability.
Sponsor: ARRL: The National Association for Amateur Radio
Deadline: January 31
Application Requirements: Open to U.S. citizen students pursuing a degree in the medical field at an accredited college or university. Applicant must also be an amateur radio operator with any class of Amateur Radio license (preference to those with basic Morse code capability). Both full-time and part-time students are eligible.
Application Requirements: Must be 24 years of age or older and a resident of Sarasota County, Florida. Selection based on financial need and on the applicant’s educational objectives leading to a career in the health care field.
Sponsor: Patty Takemoto Education Foundation for Low-Income Women and Children
Amount: Up to $5000
Deadline: August 1
Application Requirements: Applicant must be a mother with minor children, and enrolled in a not-for-profit, accredited institution or program. Must also be able to demonstrate low income. Selection based on financial need, personal circumstance, educational path, vocational or occupational goals, and service, activist or civic goals.
Sponsor: Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA)
Amount: $1,000 to $5,000
Deadline: March 25
Application Requirements: Open to full-time or part-time federal or postal employees, their spouses, and children and legal dependents under the age of 25. Children and grandchildren of members of the National Active and Retired Employees Association (NARFE) are also eligible.
Application Requirements: Open to both full-time and part-time students who are U.S. citizens. Requires submission of a 500-750-word essay on a given topic. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled in their final year of high school or currently a student at an undergraduate-level college or university in the U.S., and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better.
Sponsor: American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
Deadline: February 15
Application Requirements: Available to students who have completed one quarter or semester in a CAAHEP-accredited medical assisting program with 3.0 or better GPA. Applications are made through the program director, not directly by the student.
Application Requirements: Open to high school seniors and current college students with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or possess an Alien Registration Card. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible.
Application Requirements: Applicant must be a U.S. citizen accepted to or enrolled at an accredited college or university in pursuit of a degree in the medical field. Must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA up through the time of application for the scholarship.
Financial Aid Q&A for Medical Assistant Students
It’s no surprise that students have a lot of questions about funding their medical assistant educations. Here are the three most asked questions by students about paying for school:
Do I qualify for financial aid?
It depends on the type of financial aid you are seeking. Each type of financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) has its own set of requirements. Federal student aid, for example, requires medical assistant program applicants to meet several eligibility criteria including, among others:
financial need (for most programs);
citizenship or eligible noncitizen status;
an eligible medical assistant education program; and
of satisfactory academic progress in your medical assistant program.
Many state-run student aid programs follow the same criteria as the Federal Student Aid program. The bottom line is to check with any financial aid program you are interested in for specific eligibility requirements.
Does my medical assistant program qualify for financial aid?
It depends on both
the specific medical assistant education program and specific
financial aid sought. In most cases, students enrolled in a medical
assistant degree or diploma program offered by a properly
regionally-accredited institution are eligible for financial aid.
However, shorter, less extensive programs – particularly
certificate programs – may not qualify their students for financial
aid. Again, it’s crucial to check with any program you are
considering before enrolling to find out if financial aid is
The program I’m interested in has a payment plan. How does that work?
Payment plan specifics vary by school and program. Generally speaking, payment plans work like any other installment plan. Students pay their program costs (tuition, fees, etc.) plus an additional flat fee or interest over time in affordable weekly or monthly installments. Payment plans are typically three to 12 months in length, but may be longer in certain cases.
Financial Aid Resources for Medical Assistant Students
We’ve hopefully covered all of the important information to get you started on funding a medical assistant education program. If you have additional questions, however, or if you’re simply ready to further explore the subjects of medical assistant training, medical assistant careers, and funding your education, here are several useful online resources to check out:
Medical Assistant Professional Associations and Organizations
American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA): Provides medical assistant professionals with education, certification, credential acknowledgement, networking opportunities, advocacy and more. Includes links to AAMA-affiliated state organizations.