If you are an aspiring doctor, you are probably wondering, “How much money does it cost to become a doctor?”
With classes alone, the cost of medical school can be exorbitantly high!
However, these costs can vary, depending on the type and location of the school you attend.
This article is a comprehensive answer to how much is med school! We will provide you with information on the average cost of medical school in different types of colleges, including public and private programs. We will also talk about the variety of costs affiliated with location and recommendations for financial support to help you reduce the cost of medical school.
How Much Does It Cost on Average for 4 Years of Medical School?
The real cost of medical school can be driving your decision to pursue a medical career. This is why it is important for you to do your research to find ways that can minimize costs, while also making sure you get the quality training needed.
Let’s start with general information on the average cost of medical school.
Average Cost of Medical School for Public Schools
According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average cost of medical school is over $120,000 for four full years. This number is estimated at the lower end of real costs of medical school; but costs can certainly vary by program and location.
Public medical schools cost slightly lower than private schools; but remain considerably high. The average cost of medical school for a single year at a public school estimates around $32,000. Because medical school takes about four years to complete, you are estimating the costs of public medical school at around a total of $130,000.
As a warning, these estimated costs do not include other college expenses, such as textbooks or laptop, living arrangements, food, transportation or other elements required to live life comfortably outside of your family home. The costs only refer to the coursework and program. So, if you plan to attend medical school, you’ll need to plan for much more than $130,000 to meet your basic needs.
Make sure to have these conversations with your family members early on, as the costs tend to impact both the student and their families.
Average Cost of Medical School for Private Schools
According to the AAMC, the average cost of medical school for a single year at a private school estimates around $52,000. Again, because you will need to complete four years, the costs of private medical school estimates around $210,000 for the classes alone!
Additionally, the costs of medical school continue to increase over the years. Just like other colleges, tuition continues to rise for students across the U.S. According to our sources, both private and public medical schools have increased their costs from the prior year.
These increasing costs make the med school process much more competitive and more difficult to sustain as a working student.
What’s the Real Cost of Medical School? (Including Pre-Med)
Now, if we refer to the comprehensive costs of medical school, including pre-med, the average costs are much higher. You will also need to consider pre-med requisites into your budget plan for medical school. However, unlike the cost of medical school, a pre-med undergraduate degree to costs the same as any other undergraduate degree.
Out of state costs for a pre-med undergraduate degree are around $42,000 a year for four years. This makes total costs of pre-med requisites estimated at over $300,000. Once you complete that, you’ll face additional costs of around $130,000 for a public medical school or $210,000 for a private medical school.
All in all, the real cost of medical school remains exorbitantly high. However, we do want to note that this is just as costly as pursuing an advanced master’s or doctorate degree. So, pursuing any form of professional degree entails some financial sacrifices to reap the benefits at your end goal.
Outside of the cost of medical school, you will also need to consider costs of living, which can vary by state and city, travel, food, health insurance, and so forth. This can add a great deal of costs into your medical school budget, but there is some hope in strategizing your living situations with a roommate or family member, choosing a location that is convenient for your living circumstances, etc.
The good news is that there are options for funding opportunities! As an undergraduate and medical school student, you will have plenty of access to scholarships, grants, and other resources through your school or other programs. Several of these funding opportunities can be found through online websites and federal student aid applications.
Look for more detail on this in the section, What are Some Ways to Reduce the Cost of Med School.
We recommend having a serious discussion with your family and others who can support you throughout this process.
Why is Med School so Expensive?
After seeing the real cost of medical, you are probably wondering why is becoming a doctor so expensive?
The cost of medical school can certainly add up when you start thinking about the smaller steps to get to the overarching goal. However, don’t let the cost scare you off. Some schools can cost much less than others. For instance, we discussed how several public schools are found to be more affordable than private schools.
The only distinction between the two types of schools is their reputation. That is, some private schools are very prestigious medical schools, with a longstanding reputation in the field. Many of the most expensive schools are some of the oldest, more reputable schools.
However, this may not always be a good characteristic. Oftentimes, newer medical school programs may generate more creative teaching practices, whereas, older ones may maintain teaching curriculums that are somewhat questionable in current times.
To make a well-informed decision about whether you want to attend a more prestigious school over another, you should make sure to visit the campus, meet the professors, students, and witness the culture firsthand. Don’t ground your decision on reputation alone; looks can be deceiving!
What are Some of the Most Expensive Medical Schools?
As we mentioned, prestige and reputation are strong factors to consider when we talk about the costs of a particular med school program. Accordingly, many of the most expensive medical schools are also the more prestigious schools in the field.
To demonstrate just how expensive medical schools with prestige can get, here is our list of the top five most expensive medical schools today.
- Case Western Reserve University at roughly $65,000 per year
- Dartmouth University at roughly $63,000 per year
- Northwestern University at roughly $62,000
- Tufts University at roughly $61,000 per year
- Columbia University at roughly $60,000 per year
Importantly, many of these schools with have a comprehensive list of items that would fall under the tuition cost and estimated costs of living. Make sure to check each school’s website for these itemized expenses to incorporate into your med school budget.
What are Some of the Cheapest Medical Schools?
First, cheaper does not equate to lower quality. Cheaper schools simply have different funding mechanisms and perhaps a more practice-oriented curriculum rather than research-based. Remember to consider cheaper schools that can afford you the education you need for your career.
To help you decide on how to budget the costs of medical school, here is a list of the cheapest public medical schools to attend. Please keep in mind that these are the schools with the lowest in-state tuition and fees for the 2018-2019 academic year.
From our list, you’ll see that the lowest estimate of tuition starts at about $18,800 and the highest tuition (for the cheapest medical school) is about $22,000. This a stark difference from average $41,000.
- Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at roughly $18,800.
- Texas Tech University Sciences Center – El Paso at roughly $19,000.
- Texas A&M Health Science Center at roughly $19,000.
- University of New Mexico at roughly ,500 (by the way, we go over the best scholarships in New Mexico here).
- University of North Texas Health Science Center at roughly $19,500.
- University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio at roughly $20,000.
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at roughly $21,000.
- University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston at roughly $22,000.
- University of Texas Health Center – Houston (McGovern) at roughly $22,000.
- West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine at roughly $22,700 (check out the best scholarships in West Virginia here).
If you’re set on private schools for your medical training, consider the following list of the most affordable private medical schools.
- Baylor College of Medicine at roughly $32,000 a year.
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine at roughly $33,000 a year.
- University of Pikeville at roughly $41,000 a year.
Please note some schools may have recently been added, so make sure to refer to the U.S. News Education for updates.
What are Some Ways to Reduce the Cost of Med School?
While the costs of medical school can be overwhelming, there are several opportunities to reduce your costs. Funding to assist with medical school costs will typically be offered in the formal of financial aid, scholarships, or student loans. We will walk you through each of these with some search tips to begin finding some funds today.
Financial aid for medical school is essentially money that is provided through the federal government that is calculated on the costs of tuition, lodging, and materials. Financial aid can come in the form of Pell Grants or loans.
Pell Grants are funds that you would not have to pay back. This is a source of money that is based off of your average income or your family’s average income. Each state or school has a particular cut-off point for average income in order to be considered for these grants.
On the other hand, student loans are usually borrowed money from the federal government that you will be required to pay back. Student loans are calculated based off of the specific school’s tuition and additional living costs. These loans acquire interest for repayment, but you have the opportunity to delay the interest until you graduate (e.g., deferment).
While it may be tempting to acquire more loans to live comfortably, we strongly recommend that you borrow money only to meet your medical school costs. Currently, the average student loan debt is around $200,000, but many students who are not practicing doctors have been able to accommodate their payments along with their life investments.
Both of these sources can be accessed through FAFSA. FAFSA is a free application for federal student aid. You must complete the FAFSA forms to be considered for any grants or loans. To complete the form, you will need the name of the schools you are applying to, you or your parent’s tax information and income, your social security, and estimate of costs you expect to attend to the school.
The application process can be somewhat burdensome, but the good news is that you will only need to complete it thoroughly once. After your first time, you can copy information from the prior year to make the application process easier (if your circumstances have remained the same).
Scholarships for medical school are different from financial aid. Scholarships are based on merit or accomplishments, rather than income status. This means that the amount you can get from a scholarship varies without restrictions based on tuition or income.
Scholarships can help pay your tuition, while your financial aid helps you cover additional costs, such as textbooks, lodging, and other materials needed for coursework. So, we strongly advise you to apply for both. Scholarships can range from $1,000 to over $35,000 a year.
Sources for scholarships are usually from private organizations, foundations, community-based programs, or another non-profit program. Typically, this source of funding will not be required to pay back, but you are expected to maintain a certain GPA or dedication to a particular field.
For instance, there are scholarships from the Radiological Society of North America that would apply for a medical student aspiring to practice in radiology. Don’t expect to take the money and change your mind to family practice farther along in your career. You’ll need to commit to radiology with acceptance of the scholarship.
Additional scholarships are available through the military. For instance, the U.S. Amy, Navy and Air Force offer the Health Professions Scholarship Program, which covers all tuition and supplies. You get a living stipend, which is like getting a paycheck to support your living expenses outside of the medical school program.
To start your search for medical school scholarships, you can visit the AAMC website on scholarships here.
Private student loans
We consider private student loans as your last resort because many of these are not actually intended for developing professionals or students. This means that the interests rate may vary from what the federal student loans typically assign. Private loans are not necessarily based off of need, either; so you’ll need to qualify based on your income and credit score.
Essentially, it is like taking a major credit card out to pay for medical school costs. Please stay wary of private student loans because they do not offer the same protections as federal student loans, such as loan deferments, income dependent repayment plans, or public service loan forgiveness. All these options try to help you pay off the loan at a more reasonable interest.
Strategizing your applications
Other ways to reduce your costs is to apply to schools that are within your state. Tuition tends to be higher for out-of-state students than in-state students. This only applies to public medical schools; private medical schools are roughly over $60,0000 a year regardless of your status.
You can also try applying to practice in an underserved area. Many scholarships offer you full paid tuition and living expenses if you are committed to practicing as a health care professional in an area where there is a significant shortage of assistance.
Professional Student Exchange Program
Another option is to use the Professional Student Exchange Program, which provides financial support to attend a medical program outside of your home state. The financial support is around $32,000 a year; a definite cover for the average costs of medical school in a public institution. Note that the program is very competitive, but is still worth a try to reduce your cost of medical school.
Wrapping Things Up: How Much is Med School?
If you’re considering medical school, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration; particularly, when we refer to the real cost of medical school. After reading this article, you should be well aware of roughly how much money it costs to become a doctor and the distinction between differently priced public and private medical schools.
The most important thing to remember is that there are opportunities to curtail the costs of medical school through the use of financial aid, scholarships, and other grant funding programs that may be made available to you, your career track, or your accomplishments. Our best recommendation is to stay proactive in your aspirations for medical school.
If you found this post helpful, you’re definitely going to like our other medical school tips here.