Enhanced Scholarship Initiative Frequently Asked Questions

The Enhanced Scholarship Initiative (ESI) will significantly increase the size of institutional scholarships and thereby reduce the burden of debt for medical students with demonstrated financial need at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about this milestone initiative.

Q. How does Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) approach financial aid for its medical students?

A. ISMMS follows a “need blind” admissions process, which means the School selects students based solely on their merits without any consideration of their financial circumstances. This allows ISMMS to admit students with outstanding academic credentials and a commitment to science in service to society. Financial aid awards are then calculated based on the “demonstrated financial need” of each student.

Q. What is financial need and how is it calculated?

A. Financial need is the difference between the cost of attending ISMMS and the cumulative financial resources that each student and their family report to the school to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The formula for calculating demonstrated need is: Cost of Attendance – EFC = Financial Need

  • Cost of Attendance (COA) is the total cost of medical school for one year, including direct and indirect expenses. Direct expenses are tuition and fees. Indirect expenses are housing, food costs, travel costs, supplies, and other living expenses.
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number that schools use to determine how much financial aid a student is eligible to receive.

Need-based aid is financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans which is established annually to meet each student’s financial need.

Q. What is included in the Cost of Attendance?

A. The COA includes direct and indirect expenses. Direct expenses are tuition and fees, and indirect expenses are housing, food costs, travel costs, supplies, and other living expenses. Please note the COA does not include the cost of optional health insurance plans. Learn more about the COA.

Q. How does ISMMS determine a student’s Expected Family Contribution and why is parental/spousal financial information considered?

A. The EFC is an index number based on the financial information that each student submits annually when applying for financial aid. It reflects the financial amount that a student/family are expected to contribute to a medical student's cost of attendance. All individuals' taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or social security) will be considered in the assessment. Parental as well as spousal/domestic partner financial information is considered when determining a student’s EFC, in order for ISMMS to provide need-based support to students with documented financial need.

ISMMS requires financial information for all parents (e.g., biological parents, step-parents, adoptive parents, and legal guardians), even in instances where parents are divorced or separated. Applications without financial information for all parents will not be eligible for need-based institutional aid.

ISMMS recognizes that in extremely rare cases, families may have extenuating circumstances regarding parental information that should be considered in determining a student’s EFC. In these extremely uncommon situations, students may request a waiver to the requirement for parental information in their financial aid application.

Q. What is the age requirement for providing parental financial information for need-based financial aid?

A. For the purpose of need-based financial aid applications, students under the age of 33 are considered financially dependent on custodial/non-custodial parents regardless of marital status, federal dependency status, or years of self-support. Students considered financially dependent on their parents are required to provide parental financial information annually. Students who are 33 and older are required to provide similar financial information for themselves and their spouse, as applicable.

Q. What is the Enhanced Scholarship Initiative (ESI) at ISMMS and how will it impact financial aid?

A. The Enhanced Scholarship Initiative represents a major step forward in how ISMMS is addressing the important issue of loan debt for the most financially disadvantaged medical school graduates. The ESI enables ISMMS students with no family expected contribution (EFC) to graduate medical school with a maximum debt of $75,000 over four years. This is significantly lower than the national median loan debt of $200,000 per graduate across all U.S. medical schools. The recent MD graduation classes of 2020 and 2021 saw an overall median graduation debt level of $146,007 and $132,611 respectively.

Q. Who is eligible for the ESI scholarship?

A. Students with demonstrateed financial need who are enrolled in the MD program are eligible for the ESI scholarship, including DACA and international students. Students enrolled in a dual degree program will receive an ESI scholarship for costs associated with the MD program only.

Q. How are scholarship and loan amounts determined in the context of the ESI?

A. Students with financial need beyond their EFC first receive a base loan of $18,750 per year. The first $4,000 of the base loan is funded by an ISMMS institutional loan and the remainder by a federal Direct Unsubsidized loan (except for international students; see below). The remainder of the student’s demonstrated need after their EFC and base loan is applied to their cost of attendance budget is provided by the ESI scholarship. Students may access additional loan support to fund their cost of attendance, if they do not want to utilize their personal and/or family resources to fullfill the exected family contribution (EFC).

Q. How do I apply for financial aid?

A. Students seeking financial aid must complete three applications: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); the CSS Profile; and the ISMMS Financial Aid Application. Please visit the Office of Student Financial Services webpage to access these applications and learn more about the financial aid application process.

Q. Can I appeal my financial aid award?

A. Yes. After you receive notification of your financial aid award, if you feel there are extenuating circumstances that affect your financial need, you may submit a Reconsideration of Financial Aid Request Form. Please email the form and all supporting documentation to studentfinancialservices@mssm.edu with the Subject “Financial Aid Reconsideration” by August 31st. The Student Financial Services Financial Aid Committee will review your request and notify you of its decision within 10-15 business days.

Q. Are there any external scholarships that I can apply for?

A. We strongly encourage all students to review the list of external scholarships here and to apply broadly, as these scholarships are highly competitive.

Students must notify the Office of Student Financial Services if they receive an external scholarship so that their financial aid award can be updated appropriately. External scholarships will be used to offset the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If a student receiving an external scholarship has been awarded financial aid up to the full Cost of Attendance, the least favorable component of their financial aid award will be reduced (e.g. a loan will be replaced by the scholarship) to prevent an over-award of financial aid. If external scholarship funds remain available after replacing the EFC and loan, the institutional need-based scholarship would be reduced accordingly.

Q. What kinds of educational loans are available?

A. The Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate Plus loans are available through the U.S. Department of Education. Students do not need to disclose financial information to be eligible for these loans. However, the Graduate Plus loan requires students to be creditworthy, which means a credit check will be completed.

The ISMMS institutional loan is a need-based loan which does not accumulate interest until a minimum of three years after the completion of the MD program. Students must provide financial documentation to determine eligibility.

Please note that international students are not eligible for federal or institutional loans and typically seek alternative loans.

Students can access financial aid up to their designated Cost of Attendance, including the option to borrow their Expected Family Contribution. Find more information about federal student loans.

Q. How can I contact the Office of Student Financial Services (SFS)?

A. The Office of SFS webpage provides comprehensive information about how to finance your education at ISMMS. Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Office of Student Financial Services
Email: studentfinancialservices@mssm.edu
Phone: (212) 241-5245
Office: Annenberg Building, 12th Floor, Room 12-80