How To Pay For Medical School

August 17

Table of Contents

You aren't the only one who is concerned about how to pay for medical school. Even if you attend one of the least expensive medical schools, the ambition of going to medical school comes with a high cost. Becoming a doctor takes a lot of effort, commitment, and a considerable amount of money.

You are aware that the expense of medical school is wholly worthwhile, but now you must decide how you will pay for it. During the previous 20 years, the price of attending medical school has dramatically increased and is continuing to rise.

How Much is Medical School?

The median four-year cost of attendance for the Class of 2020 ranges from USD 255,000 to USD 337,000, making medical school as expensive as a house. The exorbitant expense of a medical education resulted in 84% of graduates having debts of USD 100,000 or more.

The AAMC estimates that the average cost of medical school for first-year students will range from USD 39,237 to USD 63,630 in 2021–22. That covers living expenses but not living costs, including tuition, fees, and student health insurance.

For the Class of 2020, the median total cost of attendance over four years—which includes class time, lab time, and clinical experience—ranged from USD 255,517 to USD 337,584

The cost of attendance includes other prices such as tuition, fees, accommodation, board, books, and supplies, making it a more complete indicator of costs.

These expensive schooling costs include a few significant exceptions. All approved candidates are given a complete scholarship to a medical school that does not charge tuition, such as the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine or the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. This implies that the only expenditures students in those programs are responsible for covering our living expenses.

How to Pay for Medical School: 7 Proven Ideas

If you know where to seek and what to do, plenty of financial aid options help you pay for medical school. 

However, even though they involve some extra work from you to obtain, these resources might still help you pay for medical school without exceeding your budget.

Some of the most efficient ways to pay for medical school are listed below:

1. Look for Financial Aids

The financial aid provided by your medical school will be your initial source of information. Even if your parents do not pay a cent toward your medical education, most schools will nonetheless request information about your and your parent's financial situation.

Schools will use these details to choose which students get need-based grants, scholarships, or loans with better terms. 

Even though your school's financial assistance program is an excellent resource that may help you save thousands of dollars, it is less under your control than the following few options.

2. Apply for Scholarships and Grants

Grants and scholarships are the best things you may take to improve your chances of earning them. These are effectively free funds.

The most significant scholarships are merit-based, which means they are awarded to well-rounded candidates with stellar MCAT, GPA, and application results. Although they are uncommon, your chances of acquiring them increase if you can distinguish yourself from other applicants.

However, getting these kinds of scholarships and grants is much easier said than done. 

Still, it is possible with a little grit and persistence. It is ultimately up to you to find the resources and direction you require to get there.

3. Have Side-Hustles

Even though we do not advise it and many medical schools expressly forbid it, side jobs are a great way to support your income throughout these four years of medical school. 

However, if you decide to establish a side business, it must be adaptable and not take up much of your time.

Due to its flexibility and ability to assist you in reinforcing content that can aid in your own academics, tutoring can be a fantastic side business. 

You could, for instance, tutor the incoming class on anatomy. This is a win-win situation since you may earn money while reading the content for yourself.

Becoming an influencer in the medical student communities is an everyday side hustle. Yes, it requires a huge amount of effort and time to set up, but once it runs smoothly, it does not take much time to maintain.

There are other methods to earn money while in med school. Still, it is crucial to remember that any side job should not conflict with your coursework. Your first priority should be medical school, and you should treat it as such.

4. Apply for Student Loans

You may need to take loans to pay for the remaining costs not covered by the strategies mentioned earlier. 

Federal and private student loans fall into two primary groups. Federal loans are virtually always preferable because they have lower interest rates and unique income-based payment and forgiveness options.

Always aim to use all of your federal loans. If possible, steer clear of private loans because they have some of the harshest conditions.

5. Become a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant

It might seem impossible to work a part-time job while enduring the demands of medical school. However, there is a way to work on campus in a way that your pay is directly credited.

Numerous medical schools provide possibilities for both research and teaching support, where you can work with professors or facilitate small group discussions for first-year students in exchange for academic credit.

For instance, the Stanford School of Medicine offers a compensation of almost USD 11,000 per quarter and a tuition reduction of more than USD 13,000 for students who work 20 hours per week as a teaching assistant (TA) or research assistant (RA). 

First-year medical students typically cannot choose this option since it necessitates prior professional experience.

However, be careful to start the discussion with your school as soon as possible to ensure you have enough time to finish any prerequisites and meet any application deadlines.

6. Find a Service Program

A medical service program enables you to pay for your education by promising to work for a specific company for a particular amount of time after graduation. These programs, frequently provided by state or federal government agencies, can be organized in many ways.

While some may offer to pay a portion of your student loans each year you work, others may offer to cover your tuition upfront in exchange for your service when you graduate.

Here are a few examples of well-known volunteer opportunities. However, your medical school or state's Department of health services certainly has a longer list.

The Department of Health & Human Services will cover your living expenses and up to four years of medical school tuition with this scholarship if you consent to work for two years (at least) in an authorized "underserved community."

Spend time in the armed forces. The military will pay for your education, including tuition, fees, a living stipend, and a sign-on bonus. For every year of your scholarship, you must serve for at least three years on active duty.

This program can assist you in repaying whatever loans you took out for medical school, even if it will not cover your expenditures upfront. After making 120 loan payments under PSLF, you may be qualified to have your debts canceled if you work for a recognized organization like the government or a nonprofit.

You should conduct your study and use a Public Service Loan Forgiveness calculator to decide if it's worthwhile because it's not a guaranteed option.

In exchange for two (or three) years of labor in a region with a high need or scarcity of medical experts, many states help medical professionals pay off their college loans. To see if your state will assist you in repaying your medical school loans, check out our database of LRAPs.

How to Reduce Expenses in Medical School

Now that we have covered the various strategies to improve your financial resources, let us discuss reducing your spending.

1. Select an Affordable School

The cost of tuition varies widely amongst medical schools, so picking a cheap one can save you tens of thousands of dollars. There are medical schools that are more affordable, while there are also those that are expensive. 

Your choice of medical school will not simply cost you money for tuition, though. The location of your medical school might significantly impact the cost of living as well. 

Be prepared to pay a good buck on living expenses if you attend medical school in California, for example. 

Cost should still be discussed, even if there are many considerations you must make when selecting a medical school.

2. Reduce Your Expenditures

Whatever medical school you choose, there are always methods to cut costs and lessen your reliance on student loans.

First, sharing a room with someone while in medical school can significantly lower your monthly expenses. Do not get us wrong, having a roommate has advantages and disadvantages. 

Still, if you can find the perfect roommate, it may actually improve and enhance your medical school experience. It would be best if you then became a proficient home cook. Additionally, being substantially less expensive than dining out, it is significantly healthier. Additionally, learning to cook is a valuable skill you can master for the rest of your life. 

You may cut costs to lessen your reliance on student loans and the amount of interest you have to pay back later. 

Examples include buying and reselling textbooks and delaying upgrading the newest technology. Your future self will doubt any sacrifices you make now.

3. Strengthen Your Financial Literacy

The more financially savvy you are, the better you will manage debt. For this reason, a lot of medical schools offer financial literacy instruction. Students of the Univ of South Carolina School of Med attend group meetings in years two and three and participate in one-on-one financial counseling sessions in their first and fourth years. 

Budgets, costs, and debt repayment choices are among the topics covered. A financial planner meets with the students as well.

Students need to participate in at least four financial literacy sessions during their enrollment, ranging from the one-on-one entrance and exit interviews to group sessions on subjects like debt management, at the Albert Einstein College of Med in the Bronx, New York. 

Some institutions require students to utilize the AAMC's MedLoans Organizer and Calculator, which helps them track loans and run payback scenarios. This tool was created especially for medical school students.

4. Utilize the AAMC's Resources

Through its FIRST (Financial Information, Resources, Services, and Tools) initiative, the AAMC provides a range of information to applicants, students, and locals. 

This includes online materials on paying for medical school and how to afford it, videos, and seminars on topics including managing loans while in residency and repaying student loans.

Final Thoughts

These are all excellent ways to find the money to pay for medical school. At first, the price of medical school may seem prohibitive. 

By researching available opportunities, you may reduce your concern and get started on your path to helping others.

You have many options for funding your ambition, including scholarships, student loans, and other initiatives that help with the cost of medical school.


You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

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