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!
Estimating expenses can be difficult: how much does med school cost in total? The answer varies depending on multiple factors, such as:
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The MCAT costs upwards of $300.
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 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.
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:
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:
Living expenses on top of the tuition costs can add up! Thankfully, many medical schools include breakdowns with these indirect costs.
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)!
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.
The absolute best option to help you pay for your expenses doesn't require repayment. These options include:
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!
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:
The scholarship does have several application requirements:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
These tips help you save on some of your medical school expenses.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
If you still have questions about your med school expenses, these FAQs can provide more clarity.
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.
The average four-year med school cost is $159,620 at public medical schools (in-state) and approximately $250,000 at private schools.
Depending on whether you have to interview in-state or out-of-state, you can spend between $500 and $1,000 for each interview.
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.
It costs approximately $420,000 to attend Harvard Medical School (including living expenses).
Although we’ve provided averages, the AAMC states med school costs annually can range from free to $94,364.
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!