How Much Does It Cost to Apply to Medical School

How Much Does It Cost to Apply to Medical School

If you’re a prospective medical student, you’re likely eager to learn the answer to one question: how much does it cost to apply to medical school?

We break down the costs of applying, from application fees to taking the MCAT and in-person interviews.

What It Costs to Apply

The cost of applying to medical school can exceed over $1,000 due to application and testing fees and the cost of traveling to in-person interviews. 

As an aspiring med student, your next question is likely: what is the average cost of 4 years of medical school?

Depending on your target school, costs can range from roughly $150,000 to close to $250,000. 

Public schools are usually cheaper than private ones, although our medical school offers competitive rates. 

Now that you understand all of the costs, you might be left wondering: when should I start applying to med school?

That will depend on your ideal timeline. If you want to start straight after graduating high-school, you’ll need to plan for it. 

You should aim to have your MCAT score on hand before you start reaching out to schools. 

Application deadlines for most medical schools are usually between August and October. Make sure to research your desired institutions beforehand. 

Even if you’re not in a rush, it’s best to start the process sooner rather than later. For one, MCAT preparation requires time. Next, most medical students will need to apply to multiple institutions, meaning you should expect more than one in-person interview. 

If you’re thinking of recouping some of this money, it’s only natural to ask, “do you get paid during medical school?” 

Sadly, you won’t receive compensation for any clinical experience you acquire as a student. You’ll only start earning a salary as a medical resident post-graduation. 

Application Fees

When answering the question, “how much does it cost to apply to medical school?” The first thing most future med students want to know about is the application fees.

For the majority of would-be doctors, these fees will make up the bulk of your expenditures. There are three types of costs to prepare for: primary, secondary, and tertiary. 

To begin with, there are primary fees that consist of what you pay for your initial application. 

You should know that most medical schools process applications via the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This convenient system saves would-be doctors the effort of submitting their applications individually to various schools. 

If one or more of the institutions you set your sights on don’t use the AAMC, you’ll need to pay direct application fees, which can vary.

You specify which schools you want your application portfolio sent to, and pay per school. The first application fee is currently set at $170, after which the cost drops to $40 for each additional school.

That might not sound like much, but it can add up quickly. According to the AAMC, the average medical student applied to 16 schools between 2018-2019. That totals $770 in initial application fees alone.

Next, you should prepare for the second round of application fees, the price of which will depend on the school. That isn’t the case for every medical university, but many will require submitting another application after the first. 

Lastly, tertiary fees relate to documents and records transmission. There is often an administrative fee for transmitting your college transcript to your target school. You might also get charged a small fee to send over your recommendation letters. 

Preparing For and Taking the MCAT

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is another expense you’ll need to plan for. The cost of the test begins at $320. 

Taking the MCAT at an international location, canceling your test, or registration changes can add to this bill. 

Since exam dates are flexible—there are usually over 30 dates spread throughout the year—choose a time you know you can commit to. 

Don’t forget to factor in sufficient study time to ace the test as you want to avoid paying for a retake. Plus, medical schools will assess all your scores, which can hurt your chances: you don’t want multiple low scores. 

On that note, the MCAT website offers free resources to study to prepare for the test. If you opt for a paid course, you can anticipate several hundred to several thousand dollars extra for costlier programs.

Note that it isn’t obligatory to shell out big bucks on prep, although it can be helpful. If you go this route, you can always resell books and other materials after taking the test. 

In-Person Interviews

Your in-person interview with the admissions committee is the last step on your journey to acceptance into a medical school. 

The cost of these interviews tallies up to more than airfare, bus fare, or gas. You need to consider surplus expenses such as accommodation, appropriate attire, and necessities such as food. 

Try to implement cost-saving strategies wherever possible. For instance, see if you can stay with a friend or relative in the area or alumnus from your target school. 

If you can, aim to apply to universities within the same location—or at least, not too far from each other. If you get multiple interviews, you’ll spare yourself the expense of separate trips. 

To sum it up, how much does it cost to apply to medical school, and what is the average cost to apply to medical school?

You should expect to pay at least $1,000 in application fees and for the MCAT. Still, other unique variables can add to or detract from the final cost.

MCAT prep courses, taking the test from an international location, and unexpected changes can increase the total. Travel costs to in-person interviews can significantly add to your expenses, especially if you’re flying cross-country or internationally. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers an assistance program to help eligible candidates, which can cover taking the MCAT and primary and secondary application fees. However, travel expenses and MCAT resources (e.g., books, a tutor, etc.) aren’t covered by the program.

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