The Cost Of Medical School

Focus medical students take notes during lecture
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Everyone knows that medical school is expensive — but exactly how much is it? Although tuition varies greatly by year and has significantly increased over the last decade, medical school averages $34,592 per year and $138,368 per degree for in-state students at public schools and upwards of $50,000 per year or well over $200,000 for private institutions as of 2018.

Worse yet, due to the demanding schedule and curriculum of medical schools, students graduating programs in the field often find themselves in debt of over 75% of their tuition. For some, it takes years of working in the field to even out and start benefitting from the hiring paying salaries of professionals with medical degrees.

If you are applying to medical school, you should first seriously consider your dedication to the field, the time it takes to earn your degree and how prepared you are to manage the debt of medical school in the early days of your residence and professional medical career. 

Tuition Versus Post-Graduation Debt

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the median tuition in 2012-2013 was $28,719 for resident students at public institutions, $49,000 for nonresident students at public institutions, and $47,673 for students at private institutions. With fees and insurance, the cost of attendance is $32,197 and $54,625 for resident and nonresident students at public institutions and $50,078 at private institutions. Overall, the four-year median cost of medical school in 2013 was $278,455 for private schools and $207,866 for public institutions.

This alone is not all that different from others seeking to pursue post-graduate degrees in other fields. However, due to the demanding nature of the medical school and lack of time to make supplemental income, students often slip into debt during their medical degree program. The median education debt for indebted medical school graduates in 2012 was $170,000, and 86 percent of graduates reported having education debt. Specifically, in 2012 the median debt at graduation was $160,000 at public institutions and $190,000 at private institutions. In 2013, that number rose significantly to over $220,000 median debt. 

With residence programs immediately following most medical school programs, recent graduates rarely have a chance to earn a full doctor's salary and it can take upwards of six years for these new medical professionals to clear their debt and start earning a true doctor's salary.

Scholarships, Grants, and Financial Aid

Fortunately, there are a variety of financial aid solutions for students hoping to start medical can seek to help mitigate these costs. The AAMC compiles a helpful list for counselors every year that details scholarship opportunities for medical students, specific to each year of the medical professional's educational career. Among them, the American Medical Association awards start-out scholarships for tens of thousands of dollars a year, including the Physicians of Tomorrow Award

Hopeful medical students should consult their high school, undergrad, or graduate school counselor or financial aid office for more information regarding scholarships, especially those specific to in or out of state students. Most students who graduate medical school, despite the initial debt, do manage to pay off their student loans by their 10th year in the professional field. So if you have the drive, the patience and the passion to become a doctor, apply for medical school and start your career.