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Top Accredited Medical Billing and Coding Schools Online With Financial Aid

When most people flash their insurance cards upon receiving health care, they assume it works something like a credit card—the amount of services is put on the card and the insurance company pays it when it seems that there’s a balance. If only it were that simple.  A lot goes into medical billing and ensuring that health care patients and providers alike get reimbursed for services rendered. A majority of the billing process involves coding.

The Task of Medical Billing and Coding

blood pressure and medicine kit

Coding refers to the process of assigning a code to each diagnosis and procedure. There are thousands of medical codes that a billing and coding specialist must know. Moreover, a specialist must be familiar with diagnosis-related groups, or DRGs, which are necessary to explain what procedures were performed and why. The DRG is essential to helping insurance programs determine how much to reimburse the doctor, hospital, medical office or laboratory. If even a single code is off, the medical office risks losing money, or worse—being accused of medical insurance fraud. That said, a medical billing and coding specialist’s job is an essential one, which is why it is crucial that aspiring coders receive their credentials from top accredited billing and coding schools.

Top 5 Online Medical Billing and Coding Schools That Offer Financial Aid

School is expensive, and this is true no matter which field you go into or what institution you choose to attend. If you wish to pursue a career in medical billing and coding but do not have the funds to pay for an education upfront, you do have options. One of which is to earn your degree from an accredited medical billing and coding school that offers financial aid. This guide provides a list of the top accredited medical billing and coding schools online with financial aid.

Penn Foster

Penn Foster is an accredited institution that offers flexibility, mobility, and affordability. The medical billing and coding program is one of the school’s top career programs. Most students earn their credentials and are test-ready within just 10 months. This program prepares you for three of the most prestigious certification exams you need to become a professional medical coder, including the Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS) exam, the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam and the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam. In addition to engaging and informative lessons, tuition also covers the cost of the CBCS exam, a $115 value.

stethoscope pen on notepad

One of the best parts about Penn Foster is its flexible financing options. Though the school doesn’t offer financial aid in the traditional sense, it does offer assistance in the following forms:

  • Payment plans that come with zero interest
  • Discounts for those who pay in full
  • Customized payment plans to fit your financial needs
  • Enrollment with a down payment as low as $39
  • Enrollment with a down payment as low as $39

One of the best parts about Penn Foster is its flexible financing options. Though the school doesn’t offer financial aid in the traditional sense, it does offer assistance in the following forms:

  • Monthly payment options
  • Payment plans that come with zero interest
  • Discounts for those who pay in full
  • Customized payment plans to fit your financial needs
  • Enrollment with a down payment as low as 

2. The College of Health Care Professions

touching hands

CHCP was founded by physicians more than 30 years ago, and since then, it has been 100-percent focused on training and educating aspiring health care professionals. The school is dedicated to providing students with the tools they need to succeed in the healthcare industry, including real-world training, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities. The professors have practiced in the fields they teach, and the curriculum requires students to complete an externship with a healthcare organization prior to graduation.

Financial Aid Offerings

As already mentioned, CHCP is dedicated to providing students with the tools they need to succeed, including financial assistance. The institution offers financial aid in the form of:

  • Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan
  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loan (Federal)
  • Pell Grant (Federal)
  • Parent Loan (Federal) for Undergraduate Students
  • Tuition payment plans

3. Southern Careers Institute 

Southern Career Institute has been offering career training programs for over 50 years. The Texas-based school has campuses in Austin, Brownsville, Harlingen, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Pharr, and now it offers courses online. Classes focus on business, beauty, technology and, of course, medicine. Scholars who graduate with a certificate from SCI may be eligible for the following certifications:

male and female doctors
  • CMAA: Certified Medical Administrative Assistant
  • CBCS: Certified Billing and Coding Specialist
  • EHRS: Electronic Health Records Specialist
  • Financial assistance options

SCI is committed to making college affordable for all students. Potential program participants can sit down with a financial advisor to discuss all financial assistance options, which may include the following:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and a school scholarship matching the amount
  • William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
  • Veterans’ Benefits Assistance: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program
  • Montgomery GI Bill
  • Post 9/11 GI Bill
  • Post-Vietnam Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program
  • Selective Reserve Option of MGIB
  • Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program
  • Reserve Educational Assistance Program

4. Everett Community College

ECC’s medical coding program is a 44-credit fully online program that is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. Though students can customize their classes to fit with their current lifestyle and obligations, each course credit is expected to require three hours of a student’s time per week. The program is approved by the U.S. Department of Education for Federal Student Aid, which means that government financial assistance is available for enrollees.

Financial aid options for students of ECC include:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Stafford Loan

5. Great Falls College Montana State University

Great Falls College MSU’s medical billing and coding program were voted as the number one online medical billing and coding program in 2017. This program requires students to earn 63 credits, and classes are offered over a span of five semesters—which equates to roughly two and a half years of school. 

The school offers several forms of financial assistance, including:

  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Scholarships
  • Loans
  • Tuition waivers
  • Veterans’ Benefits Assistance
  • Work study

Talk to a financial advisor about options that may be right for you prior to applying. Because this school does offer several financial assistance options, you may qualify for one or more programs.

loans

Types of Grants and Loans Available to Students

Just because a school that you wish to attend does not offer financial aid does not mean that you are forced to pay for your education out of pocket. There are several private, public and government entities that offer scholarships, loans and grants to aspiring scholars. Some programs that you may qualify for include the following:

Stafford Loans

Stafford Loans are also known as the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (direct loan) program and the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program. Each of these programs is funded by the federal government, which means that money comes directly from Uncle Sam. Funds will be deposited directly into your bank account for your use as needed.

Pell Grants

Pell Grants are often considered the foundation for federal financial aid to which other forms of assistance are added. These grants are only available to undergraduate students who have yet to earn their bachelor’s or professional degree.

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

Students on the FWS program work for their tuition. Wages earned via part-time employment go toward a student’s education. Typically, jobs are located on campus.

PLUS Loans for Parents

If a student is a dependent undergraduate, his or her parents may qualify for a PLUS Loan to help pay for the cost of tuition and living. However, students must be enrolled at least part-time and with an accredited medical billing school.

Perkins Loans (FPL)

This federal program offers to finance to low-income students who wish to pursue a professional certificate or higher education. These loans are low-interest and accepted by 1,800 participating institutions nationwide.

Consolidation Loans (DL or FFEL)

If a student has more than one loan pulled, he or she may consolidate all of his or her loans into one loan via the consolidation program, thereby eliminating multiple monthly payments and excessive interest.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)

This is another type of funding available to low-income students. These grants grant those in financial need access to approximately 4,000 participating institutions and allow them to realize their goals of obtaining a post-secondary education without the financial burden.

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Scholarship

AHIMA

Image source: imia-medinfo

This is another type of funding available to low-income students. These grants grant those in financial need access to approximately 4,000 participating institutions and allow them to realize their goals of obtaining a post-secondary education without the financial burden.

Why Take Medical Billing and Coding?

The need for medical billing and coding specialists is expected to grow by 13 percent over the next eight years, which is faster than average. The number of jobs is expected to increase by 27,800 positions. In short, if you earn your credential within the next few years, and if you participate in an externship while earning your degree, there is a good chance that you’ll land a position post-graduation.

How Far Can You Make

In addition to there being plenty of job opportunities, the pay is more than decent, at $18.83 an hour. That equates to $39,180 a year. The best part is that many healthcare offices outsource their medical billing and coding needs, which means that you can work from home as an independent contractor and, if you get good enough, start your own medical billing and coding company. 

Going the entrepreneur route allows you to make your own schedule and take on as much work as you please. A medical billing and coding certificate can open many exciting doors for you. If you’re ready to take the first steps toward an exciting and lucrative career, research accredited medical billing and coding schools online with financial aid today.