Financial aid, scholarships, and budgeting

The AOA offers students and doctors of optometry tools for obtaining financial aid and also paying back loans, managing finances, finding scholarship opportunities and creating a budget so you can focus on what matters.

Optometry students or a new doctors of optometry may find budgeting more difficult than receiving a regular paycheck, as student loans are usually dispersed in lump-sum quarterly payments. Faced with a large amount of cash on hand, you may find it difficult to keep in mind that a loan of several thousand dollars must cover expenses for nine months to a full year.

There are two important strategies for dealing with quarterly or annual lump-sum payments. You could deposit the financial aid check as soon as you receive it, preferably in an interest-bearing account. Or you could consider the possibility of investing the check in an account or fund that pays a higher rate of interest than a checking or savings account.

Remember, you must work within limited financial resources. Therefore, as soon as you know the dollar amount of your resources for an academic year, take time to plan your annual budget.

Becoming familiar with the mechanics of a budget

To keep a positive outlook, try to view the budget as a challenge that will help you meet all obligations with all available resources. Before you attempt the actual mechanics of budgeting, analyze your cash flow. Is your income on a quarterly or yearly basis? Or is money coming into your household weekly or monthly? Know what your expenses are and how often they occur, as each budget is unique and must consider individual needs, values, wants, and goals.

Next comes the actual mechanics of budgeting. To ensure success, keep your budget as simple as possible. The easier a budget is to handle, the more likely you will be to stick to it.

Develop a budget:

  • List your sources of income.
  • List your fixed expenses—monthly or yearly expenses in unchanging amounts that are
    unavoidable; e.g., rent, car payment, insurance.
  • List your day-to-day expenses. These variable expenses occur in different amounts without regularity. Estimate variable expenses by tracking what you spend for at least two weeks, then you’ll see your spending priorities and will be able to allocate your funds accordingly.

Lastly, savings is not just an option for leftover money but should be a planned expense and treated like a monthly bill.

Guide to grants and scholarships for students and residents

Optometry school costs can be high. The AOA offers student members tools, resources and guides for obtaining financial aid, including optometry scholarships and grants.

Below is a comprehensive list of general and school-based scholarship and grant resources. Remember to check back regularly, as we’ll update this guide with new information as it becomes available. In addition to the lists below, also check with your state affiliate association for further assistance.

General optometry scholarship and grant resources:

School-based optometry scholarship and grant resources:

The Resident’s Guide to Resources in Research and Scholarship

The  Resident’s Guide to Resources in Research and Scholarship from the AOA was developed by the Council on Research to advocate for optometric research. Browse the available travel and research grants and fellowships.

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