How much does is cost to apply to medical school?
One of the most concerning issues in healthcare today is the availability of physicians in the United States. Even after years of attempts to remove socioeconomic barriers from the medical education system, medical students still represent a fairly narrow demographic segment of the American society. In general, medical students come from higher-income families and are raised by well-educated parents. Medical school application costs may present an unforeseen financial burden to premed students that do not come from high-income families. Premed students that have not researched the application costs may be surprised to know how much it will cost just to become a student. The average medical student graduates with over $150,000 in student loan debt. If you think the cost of medical school is high, consider how much it costs simply to apply.
The average medical school applicant applies to 14 different medical schools across the U.S. However, it can cost a single applicant as little as $1,000.00 to apply to a single medical school. Even still, this cost doesn’t even guarantee that applicant a spot in medical school – it only gives them a chance.
The MCAT, or Medical College Admissions Test, is an exam taken by students that intend to apply to medical school. The MCAT exam is an admission requirement for every allopathic and osteopathic medical school in the United States. The exam score is used by medical school admissions committees as an indicator of an applicant’s ability to successfully complete medical school. The cost to register for the exam is currently $275.00. The cost increases to $350.00 if a person registers within two weeks of the exam. Unfortunately for MCAT test-takers, nearly half of them will end up taking the exam more than once.
Exam Preparation Materials
As with any professional exam, medical school hopefuls need to spend numerous hours studying and preparing for the MCAT. For most students, the recommended science courses failed to adequately cover the material that one should know for the exam. In the end, students are forced to purchase books and exams which they comb through for hours on end.
The cheapest comprehensive MCAT study guide retails for around $30.00. The most popular study materials cost around $75.00 each. However, MCAT courses, such as Kaplan’s Kaplan’s MCAT Summer Intensive Program prep course, can cost up to $11,000.00!
The AMCAS and AACOMAS Application
AMCAS, or American Medical College Application Service, is the centralized application for most M.D. granting institutions in the U.S. and Canada. For the 2014 entering class, the fee is $160.00 for the initial application and $35.00 for each additional school to which the student applies.
AACOMAS, or American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service, is the centralized application for most D.O. granting institutions in the U.S. The charge for the initial AACOMAS application is $195.00. The subsequent addition of colleges to the application is $35.00 for each school.
The average medical school applicant spends $615.00 on medical school primary applications
Many medical schools throughout the U.S. require supplementary applications after the initial application has been processed. Some schools screen applicants based on the initial application, however, most send a secondary application to everyone that applies. The cost of submitting a secondary application ranges from $25.00 to $100.00 for each school.
Applying to medical school includes an interview. The interview gives medical school admissions personnel the opportunity to judge the applicant on a personal level. The applicants are able to prove themselves worthy of admission by more than just what can be written on paper.
Medical school applicants are expected to attend interviews wearing appropriate attire. Because they are hoping to become a physician, every student is expected to look the part. Interviewees are expected to be neat, well-groomed, and dressed in interview-appropriate attire.
The general dress-code for medical school interviews includes a suit, dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes. Although most people may have these items in their possession, those who do not will be forced to purchase them. A simple suit can cost anywhere from $150.00 to $500.00. To ensure proper fit, look to spend an additional $50 to $100 on tailoring. Applicants can expect to spend a minimum of $50 – $100 for shoes, a shirt/blouse, and a tie(for men).
Read about what to wear to a medical school interview.
It costs money to go places. Attending an interview incurs costs that can be substantial depending on the location. Costs such as lodging and airfare can be somewhat daunting, even to those who are financially able. Lucky applicants may live within driving distance to the medical schools to which they are applying, reducing the costs of travel to gasoline for their vehicle.
For those that are forced to travel by air, a single round-trip airline ticket can range from $300.00 to $1,000.00 within the contiguous U.S. If your interview requires an overnight stay, hotel lodging can cost anywhere from $50.00 to $200.00 in some cities. Other travel expenses include food, taxi fares, or rental car fees. Ultimately, applicants can expect to spend at least $500.00 per out-of-town interview they attend.
Although not an asset of explicit monetary value, many working professionals will agree with the idea that time is money. Premed students that are forced to work themselves while completing an undergraduate education will also be forced to take time off from work to study for the MCAT, take exams, and attend interviews. It may not seem like much to some, but these applicants may have to forgo other necessities in order to afford the chance to attend medical school.
The Fee Assistance Program (FAP)
The AAMC Fee Assistance Program, or FAP, is a program that is designed to help reduce the costs of applying to medical school. Applicants that meet the FAP criteria are allowed discounted rates on the MCAT exam,a free copy of the book The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam, an authorization code for access to The Official MCAT® Self-Assessment Package, and a waiver for all AMCAS fees for up to 15 medical schools.
For the 2014 testing year, the fee assistance program reduces the MCAT registration fee for eligible individuals to $100. This is a substantial discount, which saves the test taker up to $250.00 per exam. The amount a student saves multiplies with each attempt. If the average premed takes the exam twice, the average FAP recipient would save $500.00.
Luckily, the FAP is a huge leap forward in reducing the impact of financial barriers to medical education. The requirements are fairly reasonable. Applicants that qualify are those that possess a family income that is 300% or less of the poverty level. For example, an applicant with 4 people in his/her household can have a maximum family income of roughly $70,000.00.
The AACOM also has a fee waiver program for osteopathic medical school applications. However, unlike the AAMC fee assistance program, the AACOM application fee waiver limits the maximum number of schools to only three.
While the stereotypical “broke college student” maintains the ability to request financial assistance from his/her parents, what about the student that cannot? Even the students that have the financial support of their family and friends, what about those that still are unable to afford the costs of the application process? The fee assistance programs do a great job of alleviating some of the financial burden incurred in the application process, however, there continue to be costs of the medical school application process that may make medical school an unrealistic goal for those with financial struggles. Travel costs, the cost of MCAT study materials, and the cost of interview attire are just a few things that aren’t covered by any financial assistance program but could still be considered financial requirements to apply to medical school.
It can be argued that those with greater financial assets may have an upper hand in the medical school application process. For example, could you expect the same MCAT score from a person who can afford thousands of dollars on dedicated education materials and one-on-one tutoring? Does the inability to pay for travel expenses limit the number of medical schools to which an applicant could feasibly apply? Will $100 make the difference in a person having the ability to take the MCAT?
Better yet, if you manage to pay for everything else here, can you find the resources to pay the $1,000 deposit before financial aid awards are determined?