A degree in medical billing and coding usually requires between 30 and 40 college courses, weighing in at a little more than 100 credit hours. With a diploma in hand, you can find a job and begin what will hopefully be a lifelong career. But before any of this can take place, you must find a way to pay for a medical billing and coding education.
Grants and Scholarships
The first thing every new student should do is fill out the FAFSA. This will determine your eligibility for any grants or scholarships. The best opportunity for your degree is a grant, because this funding option provides money without the burden of having to pay it back. The most common of these is the Pell Grant. Free money in your pocket depends on your income, living situations, and whether you are claimed as a dependent.
You should also apply for scholarships that are available throughout your educational experience. If you have made excellent grades in high school or previous college classes, you can apply for a merit-based scholarship. The American Health Information Management Association gives out scholarships to outstanding students who are pursuing a career in health administration or information and have not yet received their college degrees. You must have at least one semester left in your college education to apply and have an outstanding educational history.
Other funding options include a variety of loans. Unlike grants, money from loans must be paid back with interest. Options for loans include Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, Perkins Loans, and Consolidation Loans. It is generally not required for any student to make payments while they are in school, and most lenders give six months after you graduate before they require monthly payments.
Students with loans should consider participating in the Federal Work Study Program. This program gives the students the opportunity to work part time at the university they are attending, government agencies, local businesses, and nonprofit organizations and use the funds to pay off their student loans.
A great opportunity for any medical billing and coding student is an internship. You will need to make an appointment with your school advisor to inquire about any internship in your nearby community. Most schools provide a list of medical offices or hospitals offering any intern opportunities. While some of these experiences may be unpaid, it is possible to find paid internships that you can use to expand your knowledge while reducing the money you owe for classes.
If an internship cannot be obtained before your medical billing and coding certification, AAPC provides a program called Project Xtern for graduates. Project Xtern matches you with a medical position where you can learn a great deal. Agreeing to this program requires you to commit three months of unpaid work while training for a position. If you have done well after three months, you are offered a paid position so you can pay off any loans you may have from school.