Medical school is expensive, and it can be difficult to figure out how to pay for medical school. It takes a long time to become a doctor, and you might end up with medical school debt if you don’t have a plan to pay for medical school. You should learn about different ways to pay for medical school, which includes the cost of tuition, relocation, and living expenses.
In this article, we’ll give you some strategies for how to afford medical school with federal and private loans, as well as some ways to pay for medical school without loans. You’ll learn about scholarships, different types of loans available to medical students, and programs that help you pay off student loan debt. Keep reading to learn more about financial aid options for your medical education.
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How Much Does Medical School Cost?
The average total cost of medical school is $218,792. Remember, before you start working on your medical degree, you need to complete an undergraduate degree first. The average medical school student graduates with $241,600 of student loan debt from medical school and university combined.
It’s important to note that the cost of a medical school education differs from school to school. The tuition varies by location and residency status, and the cost of living is different depending on where you go to school. You’ll need to evaluate your total costs for each school.
Can I Pay for Medical School Without Loans?
You can pay for medical school costs without relying completely on loans, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to cover all your costs without a single loan. Here are some tips to avoid medical school loans.
Top 5 Tips to Avoid Medical School Loans
- Lower your upfront costs. Each medical school application costs money, and traveling to medical school interviews is also expensive. Narrow down your list of schools you want to apply to in order to lower the cost of applying to medical school.
- Look for schools with lower tuition costs. Choosing to attend some of the cheapest medical schools is one of the best ways to reduce your medical school cost and reduce the need to take out loans. You will still get an excellent medical education at an inexpensive school.
- Take advantage of financial aid. As a medical student, there are several financial aid options available to you. Some schools offer need-based grants and scholarships. If you had a high GPA as an undergraduate student, you have a better chance of getting merit-based scholarships.
- Find a loan forgiveness program. There are loan forgiveness programs for federal loans that can reduce your medical school debt. There are also state-run loan repayment assistance programs. These programs usually require you to work for a nonprofit organization, the government, the military, or work in medically underserved areas.
- Improve your financial literacy. The more you know about finances, the better you’ll be at managing your student debt. Some medical schools offer one-on-one financial literacy training for students that covers budgeting and loan repayment options.
How to Pay for Medical School: 8 Ways to Pay for Medical School
1. Use Personal Savings
Your personal savings are the first thing you use to pay for medical school. Plan ahead and work with a financial advisor to maximize your personal savings before you start applying to med school. It’s a good idea to work and make as much extra money as you can for several years to prepare for paying medical school expenses.
2. Apply for Scholarships
Scholarships can be merit-based or need-based. A full-ride scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, but more often only a part of your tuition costs. Unlike loans, scholarships do not need to be repaid, but you may need to fulfill some requirements like taking a full-time course load or maintaining a high GPA. Medical professional organizations, private organizations, government organizations, and non-profit organizations offer scholarships to students.
3. Attend Tuition-Free Medical School
Some schools offer free medical school tuition to all students or certain groups of students depending on financial need or academic performance. Tuition-free school doesn’t mean you pay nothing. You still have to cover additional expenses like books, transportation, and living expenses.
4. Participate in a Service Program
Student loan forgiveness programs will cover some or all of your medical school debt if you meet certain public service requirements. You can meet service requirements by working in the military or in underserved areas. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is available to reduce your debt load from federal loans.
5. Apply for Federal Student Loans
Medical students can use federal financial aid programs to help pay for medical school. To access federal loans and grants, you’ll need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year. Federal student loans usually have better terms and interest rates than private loans.
6. Find Grants
Grants are usually need-based programs to help fill funding gaps for medical students. They are often used to cover costs other than tuition. You can find grants from different medical associations. You will also be automatically considered for a Federal Pell Grant when you submit the FAFSA.
7. Get Residency Relocation Loans
To cover the cost of residency, you can apply for residency relocation loans. These are private loans to pay for your living expenses and relocation costs to attend a residency program. These loans come from private lenders and will have different loan fees and interest rates.
8. Look Into a Private Student Loan
You can also use private student loans for your medical school program through banks or credit unions. The interest rate is based on your credit history, and there are both variable and fixed interest rate loans. Look for a loan with the lowest interest rate to lower the amount you’ll have to pay back.
Is Going to Medical School Worth It?
Going to medical school is worth it even though it takes a lot of time and money. Being a doctor is a highly respected medical career, and physicians and surgeons have an average salary that ranges from $198,420 to $331,190, depending on the specialization.
If you carefully research financial aid packages, apply for federal student aid, and participate in loan repayment programs, you can significantly reduce your medical school loan debt. When you do need to take out private loans, make sure you understand the repayment terms so you know ahead of time what your monthly payments will be.
How to Pay for Medical School FAQ
The National Health Service Corps is a government organization that provides scholarships, loans, and loan repayment programs for medical students. They have many different programs for different medical professions, and they also have a job search tool.
You might be able to have a part-time job in the first years of your program, but once you start your medical residency program you won’t have time.
Yes, medical schools in the US do offer scholarships. Full-tuition scholarships are offered to medical students in the US who commit to working as active-duty physicians in the military or as primary care doctors in underserved communities in the US with a known health care shortage.
No, you need to go to medical school to become a doctor. A bachelor’s degree will not suffice. However, there are plenty of other medical careers with lower education costs. You could become a nurse practitioner or a registered nurse.
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