How to Pay for Medical School

Trish Sammer Updated on July 26, 2018

If youre considering medical school, youre clearly not afraid of a challenge. But you may find that figuring out how to pay for your education is the biggest challenge of all.

Fortunately, there are quite a few paths to funding med school. Let's talk about your options.

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How much does med school cost?

Lets crunch some numbers, shall we?

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average cost of yearly med school tuition is:

  • $35,932 for a in-state student at a public medical school.
  • $57,492 for an in-state student at a private school.
  • $60,543 for an out-of-state student at a public institution, and
  • $58,895 for an out-of-state student at a private institution.

Obviously, these figures don’t include living expenses or health insurance.

Its also important to consider the debt this will translate to in the future. Average medical student debt climbed to $195,000 in 2017, according to data compiled by our sister site, Comet.

Do your initial research well so you can make an informed choice about the best school for you. Will a degree from a pricey school garner enough added income to make the increased debt worth taking on? (Psst use our Nitroscore tool to compare tuition costs at different schools.)

Funding your dream

There are many strategies for making med school a reality both for covering the costs as you go, and for avoiding major debt burdens many years into your career.

Finding financial solutions that may work for your situation just takes some research (and a bit of soul-searching).

Here are four options to get you started:

1. Look for free money

Do a little digging and youll find many scholarships, grants and awards for medical students.

For example, the American Medical Association (AMA) web site provides information on two AMA scholarships and other resources, including its awards and recognition programs.

Interested in a joint MD and Ph.D. degree in science/medicine? Apply to have tuition and other expenses covered through the federal Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).

Med schoolsfinancial aid offices also have great info on scholarships and grants, including local scholarships connected to specific medical schools.

You can also check out our list of scholarships for graduate students.

2. Explore traditional financial aid packages

Youre familiar with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) from your undergrad days; this government financial aid application applies to med school as well. You can get need-based aid that doesnt have to be paid back or government-subsidized aid that you pay back after graduating.

For example, subsidized Stafford Loans are need-based and low-interest; no interest accrues until you graduate.

Check our free guide to filling Out the FAFSA if you need help. 

We also recommend checking out the Association of American Medical Colleges FIRST (Financial Information, Resources, Services, and Tools)  program. Youll find a med school financial aid toolkit, webinars, a loan organizer and more.

3. See if you can get reimbursed

Commit to service-related programs that will pay for much—and sometimes all—of your tuition. These include state, federal, or even hospital-based programs that help with student loan repayment. 

For instance, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program enables qualifying doctors who work in the public service sector while repaying their loans to have part of their medical school debt forgiven after 10 years of payments. This program only covers only federal loans.

The National Health Service Corps also offers loan repayment in exchange for your commitment to work in areas with healthcare professional shortages.

Youll find full scholarships for many medical professions through the U.S. military’s Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). Learn about Army, Navy and Air Force HPSP offerings, or visit the United States Department of Defense’s Medicine + the Military website.

And finally, when you apply for hospital jobs, you should always ask if their benefits package includes tuition reimbursement or loan forgiveness programs.

4. Appeal your financial aid

If you’re still coming up short, remember that you have one important option: a financial aid appeal letter.

In an appeal letter, you can explain any special circumstances that you believe will support a change in an aid decision. Maybe you simply didn’t get enough aid to be able to go to school, or maybe there’s been a significant change in your circumstances, such as unemployment, divorce, or a serious medical situation.

Read more about how to write an appeal letter.

5. Take out a private loan

After you've exhausted all your resources in terms of scholarships, grants, and federal loans, you may want to look into taking out a private loan. Many lenders allow you to defer payments while you're in school, and several even offer special student loan packages just for med school students. 

Check out our picks for the best student loans of 2018

About the Author
Trish Sammer

Trish Sammer is Nitro's managing editor. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Redbook, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Forbes. She has also written for various corporate clients, including the tech giant SAP, The Franklin Institute, and PSE&G. When Trish isn’t busy acting as a writing ninja for other people, you can find her … well, writing about other stuff, like divorce and blended family life. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, their combined brood, and the world’s laziest dog. Read more by Trish Sammer

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