As an undergrad, I didn't have to worry -- I was an IB graduate (meaning my full in-state tuition was paid by Florida Bright Futures) as well as a National Merit scholar (meaning UF and FSU fell all over themselves to offer me even more money). Needless to say, PA school isn't going to be like that.
I've been checking out the financial aid sites for the schools I'm applying to, and almost everything is contingent on the FAFSA. Which shouldn't be a problem, because I'm no longer a dependent student, so I have pretty darn significant financial need, but what worries me is HOW the schools will fill that need... through scholarships or through more loans? ECU is pretty cheap to begin with, and UF has a ton of medical scholarships available, so I might make out pretty well even as a (now) out-of-state student... but Pacific and MUSC are oddly closemouthed on the issue of financial aid (which is rather scary) and Duke -- well, Duke is just royally pissing me off, because the College of Medicine's website has pages and pages of how the aid is calculated and awarded for their medical students, but appears to give NO internal aid to their other health professions students (PA, pharmacy, etc.) whatsoever. That's right, NONE. *angry growl*
Sigh. I've known all along that I was going to have to take out more loans; I was just hoping they wouldn't have to be in the six-digit range. What am I going to do if -- for example -- UF accepts me and offers me a sizable grant, and Duke accepts me but gives me NO aid? How important is the money aspect to me? Sometimes when I think about it, I think it's hugely important, and at other times, I feel like picking the RIGHT school is more important than picking the CHEAPEST school. I mean, I made my undergrad decision based on money... but is that a smart strategy for a *graduate* decision? I'm not sure it is. I need some input here.