How to Finance Your Healthcare Career Program

Why Become a Medical Assistant? How Much Does It Cost to Become One?

Medical assistants play a vital role in the healthcare field. So, it’s no surprise they’re in high demand, with 29% job growth projected between 2016 and 2026.

Preparing to be a medical assistant may take less time than other healthcare careers. Most medical assistants pursue a certificate or diploma, which usually take about one year to earn. Others earn an associate’s degree in medical assisting, which takes about two years.

But what does a medical assistant program cost? Medical assistant associate’s degree programs usually run about $9,000 and $23,000 in total tuition. Nondegree certificate and diploma programs may cost less, at $2,500 to $10,000. And, financial aid may be available to those who qualify. Some medical assistants may even qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.  

Student Loans for Medical Assistant School

If you’re eligible, you can take out student loans for medical assistant school – including nondegree programs. You could also take out student loans for medical coding programs, CPC certification programs, and more.

Student loans may come from the federal government or private lenders. Your borrower benefits and responsibilities may be different, depending on the kind of loan you borrow.

Types of Student Loans for Medical Assistant Programs


Federal Loans

Private Loans

Available for medical assistant programs?

Yes, federal loans may be used to attend participating vocational, trade, and career schools. These schools may offer programs in medical assisting, medical billing and coding, medical administrative assistant, and more.

Yes. Private lenders may offer student loans for career education, like medical assistant certificate programs.

How much can I borrow?

$5,500 to $12,500 per year


Depends on the lender. You can usually borrow from $1,000 up to the total cost of your program.

Potential benefits

  • May have lower interest rates than private loans
  • If you qualify for subsidized loans, the federal government pays your interest while you are in school.
  • A credit check is not required for most loans.
  • You could qualify for certain hardship options and repayment plans. 
  • If the federal aid you qualify for does not cover your program cost, private loans could bridge the difference.
  • Lenders may offer benefits like deferred payments while you are in school, or an interest rate discount when you enroll in autopay.

Borrower eligibility requirements

You must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some kinds of aid, like Direct Subsidized Loans, require you to have financial need. Other kinds of aid, like Direct Unsubsidized Loans, may be available to students regardless of financial need.

Check with your lender. Typical requirements include your:

  • Citizenship status
  • Enrollment status
  • Income, bank account balance, and housing expenses
  • Credit history


You must also be at least 18 years old. Some borrowers may need a cosigner if they don’t meet certain eligibility requirements.


When do I have to pay back my loans?

Usually, you have to start repaying your loans six months after graduating. The same goes for leaving school or changing your enrollment status to less than half-time.

You may have to make payments while you are in school. Some lenders let you make interest-only payments. Others let you defer payments until after graduation.

What about loan forgiveness for medical assistants?

Medical assistants who work for certain kinds of employers may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).

In most cases, private lenders do not offer student loan forgiveness.

Borrowing student loans for a medical assisting program is just like borrowing loans for college. Consider these three steps as you start the process:

Step 1: Research Your Options

Learn more about medical assistant programs and what they cost in your area. Local community colleges and vocational schools may offer programs within your budget. You might even find medical assistant classes online with financial aid.

Don’t just calculate tuition. Factor in textbooks, school fees, and other expenses you may need to cover, since student loans could help you pay for these, too. But, remember never to borrow more than you need.

Step 2: Apply for Potential Scholarships, Grants, and Federal Financial Aid

Before turning to private loans, see if you qualify for other kinds of aid – like scholarships or federal student loans. Federal loans may offer a lower interest rate than private loans, along with other borrower benefits. So, you might be able to save money by starting here.

Two common types of federal loans include:

  • Federal Direct Subsidized Loans. Eligible undergraduate students with financial need may qualify for these loans. Interest on these is subsidized, meaning the federal government pays your interest while you are in your medical assistant program.
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans. No financial need is required to qualify for this loan. But, interest is not subsidized. You are responsible for paying the interest that accrues while you are in medical assistant school.

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you are eligible for these or other kinds of financial aid.

Another benefit of federal loans is that medical assistants who work for certain kinds of employers could qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). This means that after you make 120 qualifying monthly payments on your loans, you could have the rest of the balance forgiven.

To be eligible for PSLF, you must work full-time. It also matters who you work for. Qualifying employers include government and nonprofit organizations, plus those that provide certain public services – like public health. Other stipulations may apply.

Step 3: Compare Private Loans for Medical Assistant Programs

Private student loans could help you pay for costs that financial aid does not cover. Many banks and financial organizations offer private education loans. Some lenders even offer loans especially for career training, like medical assistant programs.

Unlike federal loans, private student loans depend on your credit. You may have the best chances of qualifying for a loan if your credit score is at least 690. (You can check your credit score online, for free.)

That said, you may still need a cosigner if your credit score is low, or if you have not yet established credit at all. Your cosigner could be someone like a parent, guardian, or relative who agrees to share responsibility for your loan

Terms for private student loans vary by lender. Features to check for include interest rate, minimum and maximum loan amounts, and the projected size of your monthly payment. Also compare repayment plans. For some loans, you’ll have to make payments while you’re in school. Others defer payment until after you leave school, but these loans may take longer to pay off in full.

Consider loans such as Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan, which features:

  • Competitive variable and fixed interest rates
  • No origination fee
  • Multiple repayment options

Putting It All Together: Financing Your Medical Assistant Goals

Think of student loans as an investment in your medical assistant career path. Hopefully, your future career satisfaction makes the cost of your career training worthwhile.

That said, always borrow wisely. Compare your student loans with the potential salary you could earn when you finish your program. And, make sure you can handle the monthly payment once you graduate.

*For more information on financial aid, grants, and scholarships, you can download our FREE Education Success Kit.

Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this page is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid. This website is privately owned and operated and is not affiliated with or endorsed by any governmental entity.