How to Decrease the Cost of Medical School
The median cost of medical school has grown at almost twice the rate of inflation, and thus medical school debt burden has been increasing in recent years. The average four-year cost of medical school sits around $264,000, with public schools averaging around $187,000 for four years.
So, what does the cost of medical school mean for you, and how can you get this debt repaid or forgiven as quickly as possible? Well, the AAMC is advocating for a decrease in federal student loan interest rates for graduate and professional students, as has been done in the past for undergraduates. But there are some proactive ways that you can start to manage the cost of medical school even before you enter medical school.
4 Ways to Decrease the Cost of Medical School
1) Scholarships: This may seem like an obvious one, but these opportunities are not necessarily sitting on your top choice school’s admissions page waiting for you to fill out an application and painlessly get free money. You must seek out these opportunities to reduce the cost of medical school. Some good places to look are the websites of corporations, which usually allocate a certain amount of money each year for corporate giving and scholarships. Tylenol, for example, awards a scholarship to medical students. Not only will this money help you lessen your debt burden, but the awards look great on a resume!
Other examples are foundations that give scholarships to select groups. For example, The Paul & Daisy Soros Foundation award scholarships of $90,000 annually to a select group of students from around the nation who qualify as sons & daughters of immigrants. The foundation wants to help promote opportunities for immigrants in America.
Think about your own student profile: what makes you unique? Are you from a niche group? Do you have immigrant parents or parents working in a special industry? There may be scholarship money for you to reduce the cost of medical school. Identify corporations and foundations that give to these causes by searching diligently around the internet. The money is there to reduce the cost of medical school if you’re clever enough to find the opportunities and talented enough to impress on your applications.
2) Grants: Need-based grants are available, but very limited, since the high cost of medical school means the majority of students demonstrate financial need. About 9% of total aid, including loans, comes from need-based grants, so many medical schools ask for parental information to help differentiate among the students. This isn’t a great source of money to rely on unless you’re sure you’re the most needy person in the room.
3) Graduate Fellowships: Fellowship opportunities are a good way to reduce the cost of medical school while gaining valuable medical experience after graduation. Fellowships in general medicine and primary care are usually awarded to medical professionals in the early stages of their careers. There are also fellowships awarded to those pursuing a research-based careers in medicine. Foundations are a good place to look for opportunities like this.
4) Loan Repayment Programs: The National Health Service Corps sponsors a program to health professional graduates who pursue careers in primary health care by repaying tuition in exchange for service in underserved areas. Sponsored by the Health and Human Service Department, the loan repayment program offers $50,000 repayment for every two years that an MD or DO graduate spends providing primary health care at an approved service site.
The AAMC has a ton of resources about financing medical school. Here’s a recent post from AAMC, “5 Things I Wish I Knew as a Premed.”