It’s no secret that the cost of medical school is on the rise. In fact, according to a recent study by EducationData, the average cost of medical school goes up by around $1,500 every year. This means the cost of a four-year degree rises by $6,000 annually.
Plus, even before you enroll, there’s quite a price tag. Students who are applying to medical school often ask themselves, “how much does it cost to apply to medical school?” and “do medical schools pay travel expenses for interviews?”
Just knowing the price of medical school tuition won’t give you the full picture.
So what’s the real cost of medical school in 2022? What about the average medical school debt? And do factors like age, region, and type of school make a difference in the cost?
Our medical school admissions experts took a look at ten years of data from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and other reputable sources to uncover the answers to these questions and more.
Cost of Medical School in 2022: Fees and Tuition
As of 2022, the average cost of medical school is $230,792. That number is projected to rise steadily to $249,000 by 2025. These costs include tuition, fees, and health insurance.
Annual fees and tuition for medical school in 2022 range from $18,228 to $74,035 per year. That’s $72,912 to $292,140 for a four-year degree, not including year-specific costs such as USMLE and lab fees.
Public medical school tuitions for in-state students make up the lower end of that range, while private medical school tuitions for out-of-state students make up the higher end.
Tuition-Free Medical Schools
Some medical schools offer tuition-free programs to some or all of their medical students.
Most notably, NYU’s School of Medicine became the first medical school in the U.S. to offer free tuition to all of its students in 2018.
The Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western University waives its tuition for students who spend an additional fifth year in medical school conducting research.
Finally, the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine will be offering tuition-free medical school from 2020 to 2024.
Other schools medical schools waive tuition and fees for lower-income students. Columbia Medical School, Weill Cornell Medicine, St. Louis’ Washington University Medical School, and UCLA Medical School all offer financial aid programs that cover tuition.
Are free medical schools really free?
Tuition makes up a huge chunk of medical school expenses. But there are also administrative costs, exam fees, and basic living expenses.
Some schools offer scholarships and grants that cover those expenses, which are usually reserved for lower-income students. Generally speaking, however, living expenses and other costs will be around $20,000 to $40,000 a year.
A little further below, we cover these other medical expenses and how to prepare for them.
How To Get Into a Tuition-Free Medical School
Getting into any medical school is competitive, but getting into a tuition-free medical school is even more so.
For example, at NYU’s School of Medicine, which waives tuition for all MD students, the average MCAT score for the entering class is 522, and its acceptance rate is 2.45%.
But you don’t necessarily need flawless academics to get into a tuition-free medical school. All of the schools mentioned above conduct holistic reviews for their applicants. That means your experiences, letters of recommendation, and secondary application essays all play a part in whether or not admissions invites you to interview.
Our site is full of guides, tips, and in-depth articles about all things medical school admissions. But we also offer personalized medical school admissions consulting. With decades of educational and medical experience, our admissions experts know what it takes to get into medical school.
For more information about medical school and how to make yourself a competitive applicant, check out our other articles or contact us for a free consultation.
Average Medical School Debt in 2022
With the high cost of medical school comes high levels of debt.
The average medical school debt in 2022 is $241,600 in student loans and other debts, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
This is up from $127,500 in 2000 and $199,100 in 2012.
While the average medical school debt for each graduate with is going up, the amount of students graduating with no debt at all is also rising.
In the past eight years, the percentage of medical students who graduate in debt has gone down from 82.6% to 70.8%. This trend is the result of a combination of factors, such as an increase in medical students in contract with the military, a higher rate of scholarship and grant awards, and high-income families paying for school upfront.
Remember that the average medical school debt is just that — an average. The debt students graduate with ranges from none to, in some cases, a million dollars.
So, while the average medical school debt is $241,600, there will be some MDs who have much less and some who have much more.
Average Student Loan Debt for Doctors
The numbers above represent the average medical school debt in total. It includes things like credit card debt and residency loans.
When looking at data for student loans, the average debt is $203,062.
About half of medical students graduate with more than $200,000 in student loans.
These figures include undergraduate student loans as well.
How Long Does It Take To Pay Back Student Loans for Medical School?
Depending on your repayment strategy, your expenses after school, and the cost of medical school you attended, it can take 2-30+ years to pay off your student loans.
On average, medical school graduates pay off their student loans in 13 years. The average medical school debt accrues quite a bit of interest over that time, which is partly why it takes so long to pay off.
Your repayment timeline will also vary depending on if enter forbearance during residency, use Pay As You Earn or Revised Pay As You Earn plans, or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Pay As You Earn limits your student loan payments to 10% of your household income. After 25 years of payment, the remaining balance is forgiven. Payments never rise above what you would pay under the standard repayment plan. However, if you’re married, your spouse’s income will count towards your household income.
Revised Pay As You Earn is similar to Pay As You Earn. Your student loan payments are limited to 10% of your income. Your spouse’s income does not count towards yours, but payments may rise above the standard repayment plan based on your salary. After 20 years, the remaining balance is forgiven.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program forgives your student loan debt after you make 120 monthly payments under an income-driven repayment plan. To qualify, you must work full-time for a federal, state, local, or tribal government or a non-profit organization.
Let’s run through some examples that assume a well-paid physician’s salary and the average medical school debt.
Say you have $200,000 in student loans when you graduate. You enter a Pay As You Earn/Revised Pay As You Go repayment plan. You begin paying off your student loan debt during your residency at $300-$400 a month, and then increase your payments to $1,600-$2,300 after. This will take 14-20 years to pay off your loans, which will include an accrued interest of $120,000-$200,000.
If you enter forbearance during residency, you’ll need to pay $2,800 a month to stick to a 13-year timeline. If you spend seven years in residency, $3,200 a month will pay off your loans in 17 years.
If you enter a Pay As You Go Revised repayment plan during residency and qualify for the Public Service Lean Forgiveness program, your payments will be $330-380 during residency and $1,300-$1,500 after. You would repay your student loans in ten years.
It’s always best to have a detailed discussion with your medical school’s financial aid office before you graduate to understand your repayment options and the best way to manage your student loan debt.
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Find out more about our healthcare internships abroad and take important step towards getting into your dream school and becoming a well-rounded, experienced medical student.
Cost of Medical School Beyond Tuition
Tuition is only part of the equation when it comes to the cost of medical school. As we mentioned before, there are other costs that come with attending medical school, such as:
- Room and board: This will be your biggest expense outside of tuition. On average, medical students spend $17,000 a year on housing and food. But this number will vary depending on where you live and whether you choose to live off-campus or in student housing.
- Books and supplies: Books and other required materials will cost around $1,400 to $1500 for the first year. After the initial cost, this expense will usually lower each year of medical school.
- Health insurance: You’ll be required to have health insurance while you’re in medical school, and the cost will vary depending on your plan. The ACHA estimates that medical students spend $1500-$2500 a year on health insurance.
- Transportation: If you have a car, you’ll need to factor in the cost of gas and parking. You may also need to purchase a public transportation pass. The average American spends anywhere from $1,200 to $9,000 on transportation annually. The availability and affordability of public transportation and your proximity to campus will heavily influence this expense.
- Personal expenses: This can include anything from laundry to entertainment and can range from $400 to $2,000 a month depending on your lifestyle, location, and spending habits.
- Fees: Administrative, student council, immunization, and exam fees are some examples of the many different types of fees you may encounter while in medical school. The amount varies from school to school and year to year, but you can expect to spend $2,000 to $8,000 on fees over the course of a four-year MD program.
Every school is different, so your actual costs will vary depending on where you enroll. Fortunately, medical schools usually have up-to-date estimates of the total cost of attendance on their websites. These estimates are helpful for prospective students who may be unfamiliar with the region’s cost of living. They also detail all the fees you’ll need to pay to complete their medical program.
What To Find Out From a Medical School’s Financial Aid Office
As the length of this article suggests, the cost of medical school can be complicated to calculate. This is why it’s important to take full advantage of your medical school’s financial aid office. They will be able to give you a more accurate estimate of your total costs and help you understand the different types of aid available to you.
When you visit or call the financial aid office, be sure to ask about:
- How much average debt students graduate with
- If they require a supplementary financial aid application
- If they offer institutional loans and, if so, what they cover and the terms of repayment
- Is it possible to work part-time while attending
Also, while you can usually find this information on the school’s website, it’s always good to ask in person about:
- Tuition and other mandatory fees: These include tuition, room and board, books, health insurance, and transportation. Some schools will have a flat rate that covers all of these expenses, while others will charge each fee separately. Be sure to get a breakdown of all the costs you’ll be responsible for so that you can plan your budget accordingly.
- Cost of living in the area: The cost of living can vary significantly from one city to the next. If you’re not familiar with the area, ask the financial aid office for their estimate of the monthly cost of rent, food, transportation, and other living expenses. This will help you get a better idea of how much you’ll need to budget for living expenses.
- Scholarships and grants: These are forms of financial aid that don’t need to be repaid. Ask the financial aid office about any scholarships or grants that may be available to you. Be sure to ask about any eligibility requirements and how to apply for these forms of aid.
How Much Does It Cost to Apply to Medical School?
Your first cost of medical school comes before you even get accepted. The MCAT, application fees, and other expenses can add up quickly.
Medical School Application Fees
First, there’s your primary application. To process applications, all but a handful of schools use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). When applying to medical school, you submit your primary application to AMCAS and AMCAS sends it to the schools you want to apply to.
The AMCAS fee is set at $170 for 2023. After that, it costs $43 for each school you apply to.
Next, you have your secondary application. This is a school-specific application that you submit after your primary application is reviewed and you’ve been invited to apply.
The secondary application fees are set by each school but are generally from $75 to $150.
Finally, there are fees for transmitting your transcript and sometimes for transmitting your letters of recommendation. Your undergraduate institution can inform you if there are fees and, if so, how much.
The MCAT Exam
You’re required to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) before applying to medical school.
It costs $325 to register for the MCAT exam. This includes the cost of distributing your scores.
Additionally, many prospective medical students enroll in an MCAT prep course, which can range from $400 – $6,000. The length of the course and the quantity/quality of resources and support provided will affect the price.
Medical School Interviews
Finally, you’ll need to pay for travel, accommodations, and attire for medical school interviews. The cost of medical school interviews can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on how many schools you interview with and how far away they are.
If you’re nervous about interviewing, our medical school admissions consulting includes one-on-one interview prep and more!
Help With Medical School Application Costs
If you need help covering the costs of applying to medical school, the AAMC Fee Assistance Program helps eligible applicants pay application and exam fees.
Credit Score and Medical School
Your credit score can affect housing, loan, and emergency spending options during medical school.
Federal student loans don’t require a credit check and are given to students on equal terms regardless of credit score. In general, it’s best to explore federal student loans, because they usually offer more favorable terms than private loans. The ability to put payments on hold during residency and the ease of enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan are some of the benefits of federal student loans.
However, you may find that you need to supplement your federal student loans with a private loan. In this case, your credit score will come into play when determining the interest rate of your loan.
Your credit score may also affect your housing options. If you’re looking for an apartment, landlords will often run a credit check. A low credit score may mean that you have to put down a larger deposit or get a co-signer.
Finally, if you run into an emergency during medical school and need to put expenses on a credit card, a low credit score will mean that you’re likely to be charged a higher interest rate.
Some tips for building credit include using a credit card to pay your bills, taking out a small loan and repaying it on time, and being an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. Remember to make your payments on time and keep your balances low to maintain a good credit score.
Interviewing for Residency
The next step after medical school is residency, which is a three to seven-year training program in a specific medical specialty.
AAMC reports that the costs of interviewing for residency range from $1,000-$13,000 in 2022. The median cost is $4,000.
The main cost is travel, which will vary depending on how many programs you apply to and how far away they are. You may also have to pay for accommodation if you’re interviewing at a program that’s located far from home.
There are some strategies to keep in mind when interviewing for residency. You can coordinate with other medical students, stay with friends and family, and try to schedule interviews in the same city in the same timeframe to cut down on travel costs. You can also see if your alumni association can help with accommodations.
Cost of Medical School for Nontraditional Students
If you’re a nontraditional student, you may have additional costs to consider. For example, you may have to pay for child care or take time off from work to attend interviews or MCAT prep courses.
A problem many nontraditional students run into in their first year of medical school is securing an appropriate amount of financial aid. This is because financial aid is awarded based on the previous year’s income. However, once you begin attending medical school, you won’t be able to work full-time, which means your income will go down but your financial aid will stay the same for that year. As a result, you may have to take out private loans to cover the difference.
Fortunately, you may be able to use your expected income when applying for financial aid. Make sure you talk to your school’s financial aid office to see if this is an option for you and what additional forms they require.
Finally, as a nontraditional student, there are some scholarships and grants that may be available to you. So be sure to do your research and explore all of your options!
Now that you know the cost of medical school in 2022, make sure to explore our other resources for prospective medical school students.
And don’t forget, the cost of medical school is an investment in your future and the future health of your community. So while it may be expensive, it’s also an investment that will pay off in the long run!
We wish you the best of luck on your journey to becoming a doctor! As always, our medical school admissions experts are here to help — we’re just a click away.