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Financial Aid FAQs for Prospective Physical Therapy Education Students

Financial Frequently Asked Questions of Prospective Physical Therapy Education Students

Below are resources consolidated by the 2020 Education Leadership Partnership (ELP) Student Debt Task Force, with representatives from ACAPT, the American Physical Therapy Association and the APTA Academy of Education.

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs should use program financial fact sheets so current & prospective can easily compare costs between schools. 

* DPT-related scholarships

APTA Financial Solutions Center

Questions regarding loan repayment

Questions students may want to ask of PT programs to which they are applying

* Questions regarding applying for loans

Smart borrowing strategies for higher education

What is the difference between federal and private loans?

How does interest accrual work?

What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?

What resources exist for financial literacy?

Does it help if my parents are on my loans?

What if my basic federal loans don’t cover my tuition? What is a Grad Plus loan?

Are resources available for assistance with filling out the FASFA?

Questions Regarding Loan Repayment

How much is expected to be paid back?

How long should I expect it to take to pay back loans?

What types of loan repayment options are there?  How can you differentiate between them?

What is the difference between deferral and forbearance?

What are the pros/cons of loan consolidation?

What are the options for loan forgiveness and how do you qualify?

What resources exist for financial planning?

How do I negotiate loan payment assistance from employers?

The following are questions students may want to ask of programs to which they are applying:

Questions Specific to the PT Program

  • Does your program/institution provide scholarships/grants? If so, how do students apply?
  • How should students weigh costs of programs for private vs in-state tuition if curricula are similar?
  • What are the added costs/fees for your program? (I.e. lab fees, textbooks, parking) Is a list of these available on your website?
  • If applicable, what are the qualifications for in-state tuition?
  • What is the average debt-to-income ratio for your graduates? Check the program website for information about pass rates, graduation rates, and employment rates.

Questions Regarding Clinical Experience

  • Do you require students to travel >50 miles for any of the required clinical experiences?
  • Does your program, or the clinical site, offer financial assistance for clinical experiences out of state?
  • Do any sites offer free housing? If so, what are the chances of getting assigned to these sites?
  • What is the average financial burden a student faces with clinical affiliations? (for costs such as housing, parking, gas/travel, uniform)

Questions Regarding Debt Management During PT School

Note: Individual institutions would need to provide information that is specific to their institution/program.

Check out the Center for Excellence in Academic Physical Therapy


ACAPT welcomes ideas & solutions to help meet the needs of DPT programs. Submit your suggestions for continuing education, professional development, guidelines, tools, best practices and more.

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