How Much Does Medical School Cost?

November 20, 2023
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/17/23

What is the average cost for medical school? And how do you ensure you keep your costs as low as possible? Read on to learn how much medical school costs in total and tips to save money. 

The first step to creating a successful budget is to tally your expenses. If you’re wondering how much medical school can cost, you need to break down your expenses. We’ll outline medical school expenses so you'll know how much you need to spend and when. Read on to learn how to pay for med school and tips to save!

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Average Cost of Medical School

Estimating expenses can be difficult: how much does med school cost in total? The answer varies depending on multiple factors, such as: 

  • Whether you attend a private or public med school 
  • What the medical school has set as the cost of tuition 
  • Whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student
  • The region/city you live in (living expenses such as food, accommodation, and transportation can vary greatly across the country) 

While the price tag of your education can vary greatly, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recent Tuition and Student Fees Reports can show you the average price of med school for tuition, fees, and health insurance of surveyed medical schools: 

School Ownership Type and Student Resident Status Average Cost of Tuition, Fees, and Health Insurance Average Four-Year Cost
Public medical school, in-state resident $39,905 $159,620
Private medical school, in-state resident $62,570 $250,280
Public medical school, out-of-state student $63,718 $254,872
Private medical school, out-of-state student $64,103 $256,412

Source: AAMC.org

These are averages and don’t reflect other costs, such as living expenses; how much medical school costs depends on so much more than tuition and fees. 

How Much Does It Cost to Apply to Medical School? 

Wallet and cash next to to computer

Determining how much it costs to become a physician involves looking at expenses that start before you even set foot on campus: the application stage. But how much does a medical school application cost? 

The med school application price is similar among application services, but there are subtle differences depending on whether you're applying through AMCAS, AACOMAS, or TMDSAS

AMCAS 

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is your one-stop shop for applying to most allopathic US med schools. Applying through AMCAS costs $175, and you’ll pay $45 for each additional school you apply to. 

AACOMAS

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) is a centralized application service for students applying to osteopathic medical school. 

AACOMAS' fee structure is similar to AMCAS, where you'll pay $196 for the first program you apply to and $46 for each additional school.

TMDSAS

The Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Services (TMDSAS) is for students applying to participating medical, dental, or veterinary schools in Texas. Unlike AMCAS and AACOMAS, with TMDSAS, you only pay one flat fee of $185, which allows you to apply to as many schools as you want. 

Secondary Fees 

Most medical schools require applicants to complete a secondary application independent of the above application services. As such, each school charges its own secondary application fees. These typically range from $50 to over $100. 

Most colleges charge a small fee to transmit your transcripts, and some also charge to send letters of recommendation. Your school's registrar’s office can verify these fees. Overall, how much your med school applications cost depends on the application service and how many schools you apply to.

Interviews

If you're lucky enough to secure an in-person or video interview, this is another medical school cost you'll have to factor into the equation. Flights, accommodation, food, and local transportation can be pricey. 

If you only have a few interviews and they are within your state, your expenses will be much less. However, many students have interviews across multiple states, where they could spend between $500 and $1,000 for each interview. 

Because of the potential costs involved, it is worth preparing for your med school interviews by looking at example interview questions. Practice makes perfect!  

Med School Exam Costs 

The MCAT costs upwards of $300.

Medical School Tuition Fees

University of Arizona Medical Center

Without a doubt, your highest med school cost is tuition: so how much should you expect to pay?

Every year, tuition rates increase. Just five years ago, the average tuition and fees for a resident to attend a public medical school were approximately $37,000 per year. 

Today, that same applicant has to spend around $40,000 on average annually. Multiply that by the four years at medical school; that $3,000 annually becomes $12,000. 

How Much Is Med School Tuition for Out-Of-State Applicants? 

How much med school costs depends on where you’re applying; if you're an out-of-state applicant, expect to pay much more. The average non-resident tuition at public and private medical schools is approximately $64,000 annually.

Yearly Costs at a Medical School

How much a four-year medical program will cost annually varies, especially if you attend a top medical school. For example, Harvard Medical School estimates the cost of attendance to be more than $104,200 for first-years:

Expense Cost
Tuition $69,300
Mandatory Fees $2,005
Health Insurance Fees $4,120
Loan Fees $220
Living Expenses $28,555
Total $104,200

Cost of Living 

The cost of living is near-impossible to pinpoint, as it varies by state, city, and school. Something as simple as whether you live on or off campus can affect your medical school expenses. Similarly, renting a room in a large city may be more expensive than renting in a rural town. 

It's essential to evaluate all factors when estimating your cost of living, including: 

  • Food
  • Transportastion
  • Housing
  • Books and supplies 
  • Miscellaneous expenses

Living expenses on top of the tuition costs can add up! Thankfully, many medical schools include breakdowns with these indirect costs.

Tuition Fees at the Top 15 Medical Schools in the US 

Let's look at the tuition fees at the top medical schools in the US: 

The majority of these are the most expensive med schools in the nation (and the most competitive)!

‍How to Pay for Medical School 

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As previously outlined, how expensive med school is depends on numerous factors. While most doctors will earn a high salary, students graduate with a median debt of $200,000

As a first step toward more affordable education, register for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Medical schools use FAFSA to determine how much financial aid you’re eligible for. 

Free Money 

The absolute best option to help you pay for your expenses doesn't require repayment. These options include: 

  • Medical school scholarships
  • Grants
  • Bursaries
  • Awards

There are many different opportunities available, depending on your background. For example, funding is available for students based on merit, background, ethnicity, and other identifiers. Don’t forget to look for outside opportunities! 

Military Medical School Scholarships

The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) is offered by the United States Army, Air Force, and Navy.

Qualifying students don’t have to pay a single penny toward their tuition or supplies, as it’s 100% covered by the scholarship. They’re also awarded: 

  • A monthly stipend of more than $2,400
  • A $20,000 sign-on bonus
  • Monthly allowance for food and housing
  • Officers’ pay during school breaks

The scholarship does have several application requirements

  • Be a US citizen with a baccalaureate degree from an accredited school
  • For medical/osteopathy: Be enrolled in an accredited school of medicine or osteopathy
  • Maintain full-time student status during the length of the program
  • Qualify as an active-duty commissioned officer

Another option is the Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program (MDSSP), offered by the National Guard. While the MDSSP requires a degree of time commitment during college and provides fewer perks than the HPSP, it is an excellent option for those seeking to maintain a civilian career and serve part-time. 

Educational Loans for Medical School

While free money is ideal, scholarships, grants, bursaries, and awards are usually not enough to pay for the entire cost of medical school. For this reason, most students have to take out federal or private loans. Federal Direct Loans are the better option of the two, as they offer flexible repayment terms and fixed interest rates. 

Private loans, such as credit cards and lines of credit, from banks and other financial organizations usually have much higher interest rates, and repayment terms are more strict. If possible, obtain the maximum amount of direct loans before moving on to private loans. 

How to Pay Back Med School Loans

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Paying back medical school loans is essential. The typical repayment plan for student loans is ten years, but medical school students have to add these ten years to their time spent in residency. The time it takes to pay off loans depends on your repayment plan. 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness 

One way to pay off your medical school debt is to use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) scheme. 

PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans if you have worked full-time or at a qualifying employer for ten years and made 120 qualifying payments toward your loans. Qualifying employers include many not-for-profit organizations and governmental employers. However, this method takes time! 

REPAYE

Enrolling in REPAYE during residency and then refinancing your loan when you start practicing is the cheapest way to pay off your loans in the private sector. The advantage of using REPAYE is that the government subsidizes half of your accrued interest, and your monthly loan payments are only 10% of your discretionary income.

Unfortunately, once you become a practicing physician with a substantially higher salary, the benefits of REPAYE are nullified. However, if you refinance your student loan, you can stay one step ahead of the game. 

Paying off your loans in residency can shorten your loan term and save you money. However, Debt.org suggests:

“A better idea is to refinance with a lender like SoFi and pay more than the minimum $100 payment during residency. Then, when you begin practice, pay what the original monthly payment would have been to pay it off quicker.”

The AAMC also has other resources to help you, including:

Take advantage of free resources where you can! 

How to Save on Your Medical School Expenses

empty wallet

These tips help you save on some of your medical school expenses.

Review Med School Fee Waiver Programs

Fees are, unfortunately, part of medical school admissions requirements, and if you feel that the cost of applying to medical school is a financial hurdle, you're not alone. Depending on the number of medical schools you're applying to, this cost can get out of hand pretty quickly. 

Luckily, the AAMC offers a Fee Assistance Program. If you qualify, you'll enjoy:

  • MCAT prep products and a reduced registration fee
  • A complimentary MSAR subscription
  • AMCAS fee waivers for up to 20 medical schools

AACOMAS also offers a fee waiver program to eligible individuals. While not as comprehensive as the AAMC program, the initial application fee will be waived, and applicants will receive the AACOM's Big Interview Platform free. TMDSAS doesn't currently offer a fee waiver program.

Consider Medical Schools with Fixed or Free Tuition

When choosing which med schools to apply to, tuition costs can impact your decisions. Since tuition is one of the biggest expenses, it's worth considering schools with lower, fixed, or free tuition rates, such as Texas A&M University Medical School or NYU Grossman. 

Consider Applying to In-State Medical Schools

The average tuition cost for out-of-state applicants at public schools is $23,000 more than in-state applicants. However, private medical schools cost roughly the same for in-state and out-of-state applicants. If there is a public med school in your state, consider applying! 

Negotiate Financial Aid Offers

Once you receive an offer of admission, you'll be offered a financial aid package. This package includes scholarships and bursaries you were eligible for and a loan the school is willing to give you. 

While it's exciting to be offered admission, it's important to remember you have the power to secure a suitable financial aid package. Compare offers between schools and secure a package suiting your needs. Doing this will ultimately reduce your medical school expenses. 

As another tip, you don't have to accept the full amount offered. Instead, make sure you only borrow the amount you need. 

Live Like a Student

To save on medical school costs, work on creating a budget and stick to it. Money-saving tips courtesy of the AAMC's Budgeting Basics information include sharing housing with a roommate, carpooling, and other suggestions.‍

FAQs: Cost of Medical School

If you still have questions about your med school expenses, these FAQs can provide more clarity. 

1. Which Medical Schools Have the Cheapest Tuition?

Texas medical schools typically have some of the most affordable tuition rates, but it can be harder for out-of-state students to get accepted. 

2. How Can I Minimize the Amount of Debt I’ll Have When I Graduate from Med School?

You can try to pay down existing debt from college before starting med school. Another good option for reducing your debt is to work throughout med school. If your course load is too heavy to work during the school year, you can try to work part-time over the summer or during breaks.

3. What Is the Average Cost to Attend Medical School for Four Years?

The average four-year med school cost is $159,620 at public medical schools (in-state) and approximately $250,000 at private schools.

4. How Much Are Medical School Interviews?

Depending on whether you have to interview in-state or out-of-state, you can spend between $500 and $1,000 for each interview.

5. Is Medical School Worth It Financially? 

If you want to become a physician, medical school is an excellent investment in your future; the Bureau of Labor Statistics states physicians earn at least $208,000 annually. 

6. How Much Does It Cost to Go to Harvard Medical School for Four Years? 

It costs approximately $420,000 to attend Harvard Medical School (including living expenses). 

7. How Much Does Medical School Cost Per Year in the US? 

Although we’ve provided averages, the AAMC states med school costs annually can range from free to $94,364.

The Cost of Medical School: A Big Price Tag for a Huge Reward

How much medical school can cost depends on tuition expenses, fees, and school type. Expenses and the average med school cost vary greatly between schools. The best way to handle expenses is to understand the costs, secure financial aid, prepare a budget, and stick to it. Good luck! 

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