Total Average Costs of Medical School

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Medical school is a big commitment in terms of time, dedication and money. Consisting of four more years of schooling after a bachelor’s degree, future doctors can rack up some big bills.

Here’s how much it costs to go to medical school, on average and how you can manage your costs.

How Much Does Medical School Really Cost?

When applying to medical school, it’s easy to just look at tuition. But you also need to factor in fees and health insurance. But even these costs don’t include the cost of living — rent, food, transportation, and so forth. So, the real number you want to look at is the total cost of attendance. This is what it will actually cost you to attend your chosen school for four years.

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the median total cost of attendance for four years of medical school in 2019 was $272,429 for all medical schools. For private medical schools, the median four-year cost of attendance was $330,180. For public medical schools, the median total cost of attendance for four years was $250,522.

When you apply to medical schools, you can find the total cost of attendance on each school’s website. Many schools will break down the cost for you so you can see how much they allocate for things like rent, food and travel.

2022 Medical School Cost Per Year Examples

Where you go to medical school can make a big difference in how much you have to spend to get that M.D. after your name. Whether you go to a private or a public school, in-state or out-of-state, can have a big impact on the cost.

Here are some examples of the cost of one year of medical school in 2022 in the U.S.

East Coast and Ivy League Medical Schools

At Harvard Medical School, the total cost of attendance is $99,416 for one year, of which $68,123 is tuition and fees. Go across the Charles River, however, and you could save a few bucks. Boston University Medical School will cost you $89,522 per year in total, of which $65,890 is tuition and fees. There is no difference for in-state or out-of-state students at either Harvard or Boston University.

State Medical Schools

State medical schools can be a relative bargain, especially if you live in the state where the school is located. At the University of Massachusetts Medical School, for example, Massachusetts residents have a total cost of attendance of $70,648 a year, of which $39,250 is tuition and fees. For those who live out of state, however, that total cost of attendance rises to $97,360 annually, of which $65,962 is tuition and fees.

Medical Schools on the West Coast

If you’re looking to the West Coast for your medical school education, the difference is even starker. Stanford University has an annual total cost of attendance of $108,325, with tuition and fees making up $64,868 of this. It doesn’t matter if you live in California or not — Stanford will charge you the same amount. Go to the University of California, Irvine and your total cost of attendance is $67,519 a year, with tuition and fees making up $37,939 or that, if you’re a California resident. If you’re not, you’ll pay $79,764 a year in total, with $50,184 of that going toward tuition and fees.

Midwest Medical Schools

At the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine, the total cost of attendance is $60,407 a year, which includes tuition and fees of $34.694, if you live in-state. If you live outside Missouri, your annual total cost of attendance will be $92,905, of which $67,192 is tuition and fees. At Saint Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, the total cost of attendance is $84,884 each year, with tuition and fees accounting for $61,448, whether you are in-state or out-of-state.

As shown in these examples, and as is typically the case, most private schools do not offer in-state students a better deal on tuition. It is usually just the state schools that offer lower tuition to those who live in-state. There is usually a residency requirement that dictates how long you need to live in the state before in-state tuition applies, to prevent people from moving to the state just to get in-state tuition.

How Do You Afford Going To Medical School?

There are ways to go to medical school without paying all this money. Some medical schools offer free tuition, plus there are scholarships and military medical scholarships. Here are some options to check out to see if you can save some money on medical school.

Tuition-Free Medical Schools

Some medical schools, such as New York University Medical School, offer free tuition to all students. Others will waive tuition when certain conditions are met. For example, at the Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western University, you can get free tuition if you agree to spend the fifth year there doing research.

In order to take advantage of tuition-free medical school, you obviously need to be accepted. Not surprisingly, competition for these tuition-free schools is great, and only those with exceptional credentials will be admitted.

Medical School Scholarships  

There are scholarships for medical school, but you will have to go looking for them. You may find scholarships that are available from local hospitals, or the school you attend may offer them in exchange for research or other work. The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains a listing of medical school scholarships as well as loan repayment and forgiveness programs.

Military Medical Training

If you are a member or join one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Services, you may be able to get up to 100%. of your medical school tuition reimbursed. The programs vary by branch, and by whether you are on active duty, a veteran, or a reservist.

The Army, for example, offers the Health Professions Scholarship Program which covers full tuition for your medical degree plus a monthly stipend for living expenses. In exchange, you must be on active-duty status, with the ability to qualify as a commissioned officer. You must also commit to serving on the Army Medical team. The Army offers other programs as well, including a monthly stipend while in residency, in exchange for serving in the Army Reserve.

The Navy also offers an HPSP program for medical, dental, optometry and medical assistant programs. Medical residents can qualify for a Financial Assistance Program which provides a stipend during residency. Those who take advantage of these programs are required to serve on active duty in the Navy for one year for each year of assistance they receive, plus one additional year.

For example, if you receive an HPSP scholarship for four years of medical school, plus a FAP stipend for three years of residency, you would be obligated to eight years of active-duty service in the Navy.

After Medical School: Are Doctors Able To Pay Off Their Student Loans?

Once you’ve completed your four years of medical school, you should be able to get a high-paying job as a doctor, right? Not so fast. Once you’ve shelled out $250,000 or so for your diploma, you’ve earned the right to be a medical resident.

Residents get paid, but it’s probably a lot less than you think. A first-year resident makes an average of $60,000, according to the American Medical Association. This amount is set by the hospital and there’s not much, if any, room for negotiation. Medical students are matched with their residency programs, so you pretty much have to take what you get.

Are Doctors Millionaires?

Only when you have completed your three to seven years of residency, depending on your area of specialty, will you begin to earn the salary you probably expected when you went to medical school. According to a Medscape salary survey, the average plastic surgeon earns $576,000 per year, the average orthopedist makes $557,000, and the average cardiologist earns $490,000 per year.

Is Going to Medical School Worth It?

Carefully considering the cost of medical school and exploring any ways you may have to reduce that cost, can make a big difference in your future financial picture. Like any big commitment, be sure you’ve explored all the different avenues available to you before you make a decision.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Karen Doyle is a personal finance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing about investments, money management and financial planning. Her work has appeared on numerous news and finance websites including GOBankingRates, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, USA Today, CNBC, Equifax.com, and more.
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