Everyone knows that medical school is expensive - but exactly how much is it? Beyond the cost of tuition and fees, prospective medical students must also consider housing, transportation, food, and other costs. By planning ahead and analyzing your finances before you start medical school, you'll improve your chances of graduating with the least amount of debt.
Average Cost of Medical School
Although exact tuition costs vary by year and by school, the cost of medical school has consistently increased over the last decade. According to the AAMC, in the 2018-19 year, the cost of public medical school averaged $36,755 per year ($147,020 per degree) for in-state students and $60,802 per year ($243,208 per degree) for out-of-state students. Students attending private medical schools (in-state and out-of-state) had average costs of $59,775 per year ($239,100 per degree).
|Average Medical School Costs (2018-2019)|
|Type of Medical School||Average Cost|
|Public (In State)||$36,755|
|Public (Out of State)||$60,802|
|Private (In State and Out of State)||$59,775|
Most notably, attending a public medical school an in-state student is roughly 40% cheaper than attending either a private medical school or an out-of-state public school. The average cost at private schools and out-of-state public schools is roughly the same. (Please note that although the AAMC distinguishes between in-state and out-of-state private schools, the difference is arbitrary, since private medical schools have one tuition rate for all students.)
Keep in mind that the average costs included in the AAMC data are limited to tuition, fees, and health insurance. Other important costs to consider include housing, meals, transportation, and other living expenses.
Due to the demands of medical school, students are often unable to work part-time to subsidize their education, and most find themselves graduating with significant debt. According to AAMC, 76% of medical school graduates finish school with some debt. In 2018, the median debt at graduation was $200,000 per student. While fewer private school students accumulate debt during medical school, those who do (21%) have an average debt of $300,000 or more.
With residency programs immediately following most medical school programs, recent graduates don't begin earning at their full potential for three to five years after graduation. If you are applying to medical school, you should first seriously consider your dedication to the field, the time it will take to earn your degree, and how prepared you are to manage the debt of medical school in the early days of your residency and professional medical career.
Making Medical School More Affordable
From merit scholarships and student loans to government service, there are a variety of ways for medical school students to finance their education. It's important to begin your scholarship and loan search early in the medical school application process so that you can take part in as many funding opportunities as possible.
A number of medical schools offer full or partial merit scholarships. In 2018, NYU became the first top 10 medical schools to offer free tuition to all students, regardless of need. Washington University at St. Louis announced a commitment of $100 million toward medical school scholarships during the next 10 years. Beginning with the 2019-20 class, WUSTL intends to offer full-tuition scholarships to approximately half the class and partial tuition to additional students. University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine offers 25 full-tuition scholarships each year through its Twenty-First Century Scholars program. All students accepted to the Perelman School of Medicine are considered for the scholarship.
For students approaching their final year of medical school, Physicians of Tomorrow offers 10 different scholarship opportunities from a variety of sponsors. Students must be nominated by their medical school dean, and each school may submit up to two nominees. Each student may be nominated for only one $10,000 scholarship award.
The Joan F. Giambalvo Fund for the Advancement of Women offers scholarships of up to $10,000 to female medical students and female medical professionals studying issues of concern to women in medicine. Applications are due each year in July, and two awards are presented annually.
Supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program provides medical school funding including tuition, fees, additional education costs, and a monthly stipend for a maximum of four years. Students accepted to a degree program in the fields of primary care, dentistry, nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or physician assistant are eligible to be considered for the NHSC Scholarship Program. Accepted participants must complete one year of service in a specified underserved area for each year (or partial year) the scholarship is received.
Similar to the NHSC Scholarship Program, the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program provides partial repayment of loans for medical students who work in underserved areas after graduation. Depending on the level of need in the area, students can earn loan repayment amounts ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 per year for working full time for two years.
The Health Professional Scholarship Program, provided by the U.S. Armed Forces, provides medical school scholarships for up to four years. The scholarships, which are offered by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force, provide funding for tuition, fees, books, and health insurance, as well as a monthly stipend and a $20,000 signing bonus. Upon completion of medical school, recipients must serve one year of active duty for each year the scholarship was received, with a minimum three-year requirement.
The U.S. Department of Education offers loans to eligible medical school students. Applicants must complete the FAFSA to determine the amount of assistance available. Two types of government loans are available for graduate studies: Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are limited to a maximum of $20,500 per year, with an interest rate of 6.08% in 2019. Direct PLUS Loans are limited to the full cost of attendance minus any other loans, grants, aid, or scholarships received. In 2019, Direct PLUS Loans had an interest rate of 7.08%.
Students should also consult the financial aid office of their undergraduate university and prospective medical schools for information regarding scholarships and private loans. Local and regional scholarship opportunities may also be found on national scholarship search sites such as scholarships.com, unigo.com, and fastweb.com.