Good news for those who want to enter the perfusion field: perfusionist schools/programs are relatively inexpensive compared to other medical career training. There are 17 CAAHEP-accredited perfusion education programs in the U.S. While some programs are in the $50,000 + range (for residents), there are programs offering tuition as little as $18,000 for a post-baccalaureate certificate program.
But what if you have no money for school? What if you’re already living from paycheck to paycheck and want a career change but have no savings? Have no fear. There are plenty of options to cover the cost of perfusion programs. Let’s look at the different options that are on the table.
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As a perfusionist, your job is not only to take care of the patient but to take care of their loved ones as well. Making the connection happen between a vulnerable patient and their family and friends is almost as important as the surgery itself. And let’s not forget you will also be taking care of the surgeon to an extent. When the surgeon or surgeons have confidence in you, they can relax and just concentrate on the operation, which is where their focus needs to be in the first place.
If you’re entering a master’s program for perfusion, you’re automatically eligible for at least some federal student loans. Student loans can be confusing, so let’s break down the two most common kinds of loans you’ll hear about. The first kind is a direct subsidized loan. A subsidized loan is when the federal government covers the interest collected on the loan while you’re still in school or in deferment. Unfortunately, subsidized loans are only offered to undergraduate students only.
Then there’s the direct unsubsidized loan. With an unsubsidized loan, interest starts accruing immediately while you’re in school. This does not, however, mean that you have to start making loan payments right away. You can defer unsubsidized loans until you’re done with school, but your monthly payments will include any interest built over time. Any incoming graduate student can take out unsubsidized loans without a credit check or any sort of job history.
The standard initial offer from the federal government is $20,500 per academic year. This is more than enough to cover the cost of tuition and living expenses for two years of perfusion college. However, it’s also important to note that if you choose to attend a perfusion certificate training program outside of a Master’s graduate program, you may not be eligible for federal loans.
If the certificate program is approved by the U.S. Department of Education, then you may be eligible. A fantastic resource is the National Center For Education Statistics’ College Navigator. You can search for certification programs in your field and find out what loans or grants you’re eligible for.
But not every perfusion program is associated with the Department of Education, and that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t get the same quality level of education with a certificate program. Let’s look at outside options for these programs.
Scholarships and Grants
There are many perfusion organizations that offer grants and scholarships for perfusion education programs. SpecialtyCare offers the Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Education Scholarship each year to provide assistance. The funds can be applied to any of the 17 CAAHEP-accredited perfusion programs in the country.
Other organizations such as the Massachusetts Society of Perfusion and Terumo Cardiovascular Group offer scholarships and grants as well. Then some programs like the Texas Heart Institute team up with financial groups to offer tuition assistance to students.
Payment Plans & Personal Loans
Some perfusion certificate programs will allow you to sign a payment plan agreement, allowing you to pay them in installments throughout and after training. Contact the specific program you have your eye on to find out if this is an option. If not, you could go visit the local and national banks and explore your personal loan options. If you have decent credit or a co-signer, you may not have a problem taking out loans with low interest for a couple of years.
It never hurts to explore all your options before making the most informed financial decisions about your perfusion training.