How Much Does PA School Cost?

December 12, 2022


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

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

Reviewed: 5/13/22

If you’re thinking about pursuing a medical career as a physician assistant, you might be wondering how much financial investment you’ll have to put in. This article will cover everything you need to know about how much PA school costs. Read on to learn more!

Physician Assistants (PA) are essential to quality healthcare. They take on day-to-day clinical procedures, working closely with physicians and patients to perform physical exams, prescribe medication, diagnose and treat illnesses, and order tests, among many others. 

The role of the PA is essential. They improve patient access to healthcare by decreasing wait times and enhancing overall patient health outcomes. 

Although PAs take on similar clinical duties as medical doctors, they are not independent practitioners. This means that they can only practice under a physician’s supervision. 

With this said, the educational trajectory of PAs differs widely. While medical doctors typically spend 10 to 14 years attaining their license, it takes PAs significantly less time to be able to practice. 

With this stark difference, you might be wondering: “how much does PA school cost?” This article will cover the educational trajectory of PAs with a focus on the average costs of PA school. 

Read on If you’d like to learn more about the monetary investment required to become a PA. Let’s get started!

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Average Cost of PA School

PAs typically take on about 80-90% of the services that physicians provide. With this said, becoming a PA naturally requires a thorough medical education. Aspiring PAs have to complete a bachelor’s degree prior to PA school and then complete a two-year master’s degree along with a licensing exam to be able to practice.

After completing an undergraduate degree, students will have to submit their application through the Centralized Application for Physician Assistants (CASPA). The initial application costs $179, with each additional program costing $55. You might also incur some additional costs depending on which programs or schools you apply to. 

Most schools may also require a seat deposit to secure your spot. Depending on which school you choose, this deposit can range between $150 to $1,000. 

As you go through the application process and do your research, you’ll notice that the cost of PA school falls within a large range. With the wide variety of schools and programs available, along with additional costs such as course materials and personal expenses, figuring out how much PA school costs can take a bit of guesswork.  

Below we’ll get into the specifics of PA school price ranges and the options you’ll have when it comes to pursuing your education as a PA.

Cost of Private Vs. Public PA Programs

As mentioned, the cost of attending PA school falls in a large range. Below are a few considerations you should make as you create your PA school application list:

  • Are you a resident or non-resident applicant? 
  • Are you applying for a public or private PA school? 
  • What state would you like to study in? 

These three primary considerations greatly influence how much your PA education might end up costing you. Generally speaking, average tuition costs are higher for non-residents and private PA schools. 

If you’re hoping to attend a private PA school, you can expect to pay an approximate average of $95,000. On the other hand, the cost of public PA programs differs depending on your residency. In-state residents can expect to pay $52,000 on average, while out-of-state residents can expect to pay $94,000 for their PA education. 

Keep in mind that these costs continue to increase between 3-5% per year.

Cost of PA Schools in the US

While attending a private or public PA program can impact the cost of your education, geographical location also plays a large part in tuition costs. As we know, there is a stark difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition fees for public PA schools, but these prices can vary depending on the state. 

The most expensive states to pursue a PA degree are California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, with the average tuition costs ranging between $90,000 to $110,000. 

More affordable states to pursue your studies are Kansas, Texas, Alabama, Iowa, and Wisconsin, where the average tuition costs range between $50,000 to $80,000. 

As you determine which schools are within your financial reach, it’s also important to consider other costs such as books and supplies, room and board, applications, exams, travel, and other personal costs throughout the duration of your degree. 

Given this diverse range, we’ll be providing a list of the most expensive PA schools, the cheapest PA schools, and the top ten PA schools and their respective tuition costs. 

Most Expensive PA Schools 

Here is a list of the most expensive PA schools in the US:

Most expensive PA schools
Source: Duquesne University, Gannon University, University of Southern California, Emory University, Touro University - New York

Many factors can contribute to the cost of PA school. These being on the higher-end, it’s likely that factors such as geographic location, resources, and type of institution can contribute to these high costs.

Cheapest PA Schools 

Here is a list of the cheapest PA schools in the US:

Cheapest PA schools
Source: Miami-Dade College, University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, University of Texas - HS Center at San Antonio, Indiana State University, East Carolina University

As you can see, even the cheapest schools fall under a wide range depending on your status as an applicant. Naturally, the cost of being an out-of-state student presents a stark jump from the cost for in-state students. 

Best PA Schools

Here is a list of the top ten PA schools in the US and how much it will cost to attend:

Best PA schools tuition table
Source: US News, Duke University, University of Iowa, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Utah, Emory University, George Washington University, University of Colorado, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center - Dallas, Wake Forest University, Drexel University

By now, you’ll have an idea of the general range of PA schools–with its varying costs influenced by location, merit, resource, and student’s resident status. Ensure that you take these into consideration as you choose where you want to pursue your education as a PA.

How to Pay for PA School

Once you consider all the factors that might impact the cost of your education, you should start planning how you’ll pay for PA school. While there are many federal and state-level loans available to students, there are also other funding options, such as scholarships and grants, that can support some of your tuition costs without the need for repayment. 

Below are some scholarships and traineeships that can help you pay for a portion of PA school. 

There are also programs that offer loan repayment programs, such as the Sallie Mae Tuition Pay Plan, The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, and other state loan repayment programs that can make it easier for you to consolidate any debt you might have incurred over the course of your education.

In addition to these resources, some schools also offer in-house financial assistance, so make sure you do your research to see what avenues are available to you!

FAQs: How Much Does PA School Cost?

Deciding to go to PA school is a big investment, and paying for it can be an even bigger one depending on your personal circumstances. While we have covered everything you might need to know about how much PA school costs, you might still be left with some lingering questions. We’ll be answering some FAQs below.

1. How Much Does PA School Cost Per Year?

While there is a large range when it comes to how much PA school costs per year, you can expect to pay approximately between $11,000 to $51,000 per year. Some factors that impact the cost of yearly tuition are: 

  • Residency: Whether you are an in-state or out-of-state applicant can drastically impact how much you pay per year.
  • Public vs. Private: Private institutions often cost more than government-funded institutions.
  • Demographic Location: In some states, the cost of tuition is generally more expensive. 

Also, remember that these averages do not include living costs and other expenses such as textbooks and transportation. 

2. How Much Does PA School Cost in Texas?

If you’re asking yourself, “How much does PA school cost in Texas?,” you’ll be happy to know that Texas is one of the most affordable states to pursue your education as a PA. You can expect to pay between $50,000 to $80,000. 

3. Where Is the Cheapest PA Program?

The cheapest PA program to date is the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, with an overall tuition fee of $19,292 in-state and $48,889 out-of-state.  

4. How Much Debt Do PA Students Have?

How much debt you have as a PA student is dependent on where you decide to go for PA school and how you plan to pay for your education. If you take advantage of funding options such as scholarships and traineeships, you’ll end up accumulating less debt overall. 

If this is something you’re worried about, you’ll be relieved to know that the average PA salary is $115,390 and is only increasing with the higher demand for PAs–meaning that paying off your debt may come easier once you begin working!

Final Thoughts

While there is no single answer to the question, “How much does PA school cost?,” you’ll have a wide range of options depending on your financial circumstances. Remember to do your research on the schools you’re applying for to see if they have other options for in-house funding and scholarships.

Best of luck!

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