How Much Does Medical School Cost? A Comprehensive Guide.

The decision to pursue a career in medicine is both exciting and daunting. Along with the commitment to helping others comes the high cost of medical school education. For aspiring doctors, navigating the expenses associated with attending medical school can be overwhelming. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average cost of attending a public medical school for in-state students is $36,755 per year, while out-of-state students pay an average of $60,802 per year. Private medical schools have even higher costs, averaging $60,665 per year. However, these figures do not include other expenses such as living expenses, textbooks, and licensing exams. In this article, we will explore the different costs associated with attending medical school and provide tips on how to budget for your education.



Becoming a doctor is a dream for many, but the cost of medical education can be staggering. Medical school is notoriously expensive, with tuition and other costs often reaching six figures. However, the cost of attending medical school can vary significantly depending on several factors. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various costs associated with attending medical school, including tuition, fees, living expenses, and other expenses to consider.

Medical school is not only an investment in your future career but also in your overall education. It requires a huge commitment of time, energy, and resources. But with the right information and planning, you can make informed decisions about your education and budget accordingly. This guide aims to provide you with valuable insights into the cost of attending medical school, so you can plan for a successful future without being overwhelmed by student debt.

In the following sections, we’ll dive deeper into the different types of costs associated with medical school and explore ways to mitigate the financial burden. Let’s get started!

Tuition and Fees

Public vs Private Schools

When considering medical school, one of the big decisions you’ll have to make is whether to attend a public or private school. While both options offer quality education, there are some key differences in terms of tuition costs and other factors that can impact your overall financial situation.

Public schools, as their name suggests, are funded by state governments and generally offer lower tuition rates than private schools. Tuition costs for public medical schools vary depending on the state and the specific program, but they can be significantly less than what you would pay at a private institution. For example, the average cost of tuition and fees for in-state students at public medical schools was $34,592 in 2020-2021 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), compared to $58,668 for out-of-state students and $60,665 for private medical schools.

Private schools, on the other hand, are funded by private sources like donations, endowments, and tuition. Because they don’t receive government funding, private schools usually have higher tuition rates than public schools. However, they often offer more generous financial aid packages, including scholarships and grants, that can help offset the cost of attendance. Private medical school tuition costs vary widely, with some schools charging upwards of $70,000 per year.

When deciding between public and private medical schools, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option based on your individual circumstances. If you’re looking to minimize your debt load and are able to attend a public school in your state, that may be the most affordable choice. However, if you’re interested in a particular program or want access to more resources and opportunities, a private school may be worth the extra expense.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to attend a public or private medical school depends on a variety of factors beyond just tuition costs, such as location, class size, research opportunities, and more. Consider all of these factors carefully before making your choice to ensure that you’re getting the best possible value for your education.

In-State vs Out-of-State Tuition

In-State vs Out-of-State Tuition

One of the major factors that can affect the cost of attending medical school is whether you choose an in-state or out-of-state institution. Many state-funded schools offer lower tuition rates for residents of that state, commonly referred to as “in-state tuition.” This means that if you are a resident of the state where the medical school is located, you may be able to save a significant amount of money on tuition costs.

On the other hand, non-residents typically have to pay the higher out-of-state tuition rates, which can be almost two to three times more than what in-state students pay. The reason for this is that state taxpayers support public universities, and therefore, they subsidize the education of in-state students.

For example, at the University of Washington School of Medicine, the tuition for in-state students is $36,646 per year while out-of-state students have to pay $64,621 per year. Similarly, at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition is around $30,000 per year.

It’s important to note that some private medical schools may not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students when it comes to tuition costs. Therefore, it’s essential to research each school’s tuition policy before applying.

If you’re considering attending a medical school outside of your home state, you should carefully weigh the financial benefits against the potential downsides. While in-state tuition can save you a significant amount of money, there may be other factors to consider, such as the quality of the program, residency opportunities, and job prospects after graduation.

In conclusion, the decision to attend an in-state or out-of-state medical school ultimately depends on your individual circumstances and priorities. It’s crucial to do your research, compare the costs, and evaluate all aspects of the programs before making a final decision.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Attending medical school is an expensive endeavor, with many students struggling to afford tuition and living expenses. However, scholarships and financial aid can help ease the burden of these costs.


Scholarships are a type of financial aid that does not need to be repaid. They are typically awarded based on academic merit, financial need, or other criteria set by the scholarship provider. Many medical schools offer their own scholarships, and there are also external organizations that provide scholarships specifically for medical students.

To increase your chances of receiving a scholarship, it’s important to research and apply for as many opportunities as possible. This may involve writing essays or submitting transcripts and letters of recommendation. Some popular scholarships for medical students include the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program and the American Medical Association Foundation Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship.

Financial Aid

In addition to scholarships, medical students can also apply for various forms of financial aid. This includes grants, loans, and work-study programs. The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines your eligibility for federal aid such as the Pell Grant and Federal Work-Study program.

Many medical schools also offer their own financial aid programs, which may be need-based or merit-based. For example, some schools offer loan repayment assistance programs to graduates who work in underserved communities or pursue a career in research.

Grants and Loans

Grants are another form of financial aid that do not need to be repaid. They are typically awarded based on financial need and may come from the federal government, state governments, or private organizations. Some popular grants for medical students include the Health Professions Education Foundation Grant and the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program.

Loans, on the other hand, must be repaid with interest. There are many different types of loans available to medical students, including federal loans such as the Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Grad PLUS Loan. Private loans are also an option but typically come with higher interest rates and less favorable terms.

In conclusion, scholarships and financial aid can help make attending medical school more affordable. However, it’s important to research and apply for as many opportunities as possible and carefully consider the terms of any loans you accept. With careful planning and budgeting, students can successfully finance their medical education and pursue a rewarding career in healthcare.

Living Expenses

On-Campus Housing

On-Campus Housing

As a medical student, choosing the right housing option is an important decision. One of the options available to you is on-campus housing, which includes dorms and apartments. In this section, we’ll look at what on-campus housing entails and its advantages.


Dormitories are communal living spaces where students share a room or suite with one or more people. They offer a unique opportunity to meet new people and make lifelong friends. They also provide a space for study groups and late-night study sessions with classmates.

Most dorms are furnished and include amenities such as laundry facilities, common areas, and security systems. However, they may have strict rules and regulations, including quiet hours, visitor policies, and limitations on personal belongings.

Living in a dorm can be a great way to save money on rent and utilities, as well as transportation costs since most dorms are located within walking distance of lecture halls and other campus facilities.


Another option for on-campus housing is apartments. Apartments are typically more spacious than dorm rooms and offer more privacy and independence. They often come unfurnished, allowing you to make your own arrangements for furniture and decor.

Apartments offer greater flexibility and fewer restrictions regarding visitors and personal belongings. However, this freedom comes with additional responsibilities, such as paying for utilities and coordinating with roommates on household chores.

Living in an apartment can be more expensive than living in a dorm, especially if you choose to live alone. However, sharing an apartment with one or more roommates can help lower costs significantly.


On-campus housing can be a great option for medical students who want to be close to campus and reduce their housing expenses. Whether you choose a dorm or an apartment, both options offer unique benefits that can enhance your college experience. Consider factors such as cost, location, privacy, and lifestyle preferences when making your housing decision.

Off-Campus Housing

Off-Campus Housing

When it comes to housing during medical school, many students choose to live off-campus. This option can offer more independence and flexibility in terms of location and amenities. However, it also comes with a different set of expenses to consider.

Rent Costs

The biggest expense associated with off-campus housing is usually rent. Rental prices vary widely depending on the location of the school and the type of housing chosen. For example, a shared apartment or house with roommates will likely cost less than a studio or one-bedroom apartment. It’s important to research rental options well in advance and budget accordingly.


Another expense to consider when living off-campus is utilities. These include electricity, gas, water, internet, and cable. While some landlords may include certain utilities in the rent, others may require tenants to cover these costs separately. It’s important to ask about utility costs upfront and factor them into your budget.

Other Considerations

In addition to rent and utilities, there may be other expenses associated with off-campus housing. For example, parking fees, security deposits, and renter’s insurance are all expenses that should be considered when budgeting for housing.

It’s also important to remember that off-campus housing may require additional time and effort for commuting to and from school. Transportation costs, such as gas or public transit fares, should also be considered.

Overall, choosing to live off-campus during medical school can offer many benefits, but it’s essential to carefully consider the associated expenses. By researching rental options and factoring in all related expenses, students can create a realistic and sustainable budget for their housing needs.

Transportation and Food Costs

Transportation and Food Costs

Transportation and food are two essential components of daily life, and they play a significant role in the overall cost of attending medical school. As a student, it is essential to budget carefully for these expenses to avoid financial strain and ensure academic success. In this section, we will explore transportation and food costs in detail, providing valuable insights and tips on how to manage these expenses while in medical school.

Transportation Costs

Transportation costs can vary widely depending on where you attend medical school and your transportation needs. Some students may live within walking distance of campus, while others may have to commute from further away. Here are some common transportation costs to consider:

  • Car Expenses: If you have a car, you’ll need to factor in gas, insurance, maintenance, and repair costs.
  • Public Transportation: Many cities offer public transportation options such as buses or trains that can be more affordable than driving. However, these costs can add up quickly if you rely on them every day.
  • Bicycling: Biking is an excellent option for students who live close to campus. It’s not only environmentally friendly but also a good way to stay active. You’ll need to invest in a bike, helmet, and other accessories, but the long-term savings could be substantial.

When budgeting for transportation costs, consider your options carefully and choose the most cost-effective mode of transportation that meets your needs.

Food Costs

Medical school can be time-consuming, and many students find themselves eating out more often than they would like. However, eating out frequently can quickly become expensive. Here are some tips for managing food costs:

  • Cook at Home: Cooking at home is generally more affordable than eating out. Consider batch cooking meals on the weekends to save time during the week.
  • Pack Your Lunch: Packing your lunch is an excellent way to save money and ensure that you’re eating healthy, nutritious food. Invest in a good insulated lunch bag and reusable containers to make packing your lunch easy.
  • Eat Out Wisely: If you do need to eat out, choose affordable options such as fast-casual restaurants or food trucks.

When budgeting for food costs, consider factors such as your dietary needs, cooking skills, and time constraints. By planning ahead and choosing the most cost-effective options, you can keep your food costs under control and avoid overspending.

In conclusion, transportation and food costs are two significant expenses that can impact your overall cost of attending medical school. By carefully considering your options and budgeting wisely, you can manage these expenses effectively and focus on your education rather than financial stress.

Other Costs to Consider

Books and Supplies

Books and Supplies

When it comes to attending medical school, there are several expenses you need to take into account. One of these is the cost of books and supplies. The following are some key things to keep in mind when factoring in this expense:


Medical textbooks can be quite expensive, with each book often costing hundreds of dollars. However, there are ways to save money on textbooks. For one, many schools offer book rental programs that allow students to borrow textbooks for the semester. Another option is to purchase used textbooks online or from other students who no longer need them. Additionally, some publishers offer electronic versions of textbooks that can be downloaded onto a device such as a tablet or e-reader.

Lab Supplies

In addition to textbooks, medical students also need to purchase lab supplies such as scrubs, safety goggles, stethoscopes, and other equipment. These costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to budget accordingly. Some schools require students to purchase their own lab coats, while others provide them as part of tuition and fees. It’s best to check with your school to determine what lab supplies you’ll need to purchase and how much they’ll cost.

Online Subscriptions

Online subscriptions are becoming increasingly popular among medical students. These subscriptions provide access to medical journals, research databases, and other resources that can be helpful in studying and conducting research. Some subscriptions are included as part of tuition and fees at certain schools, while others need to be purchased separately. It’s important to research which subscriptions will be most beneficial to you and factor in the associated costs.

In conclusion, books and supplies are an important expense to consider when budgeting for medical school. By exploring options such as book rentals, purchasing used textbooks, and taking advantage of online subscriptions, you can save money on this expense without sacrificing the quality of your education.

Technology and Equipment

Technology and Equipment

In today’s digital age, technology and equipment are integral components of medical education. Medical students need to have access to the latest software, laptops, and medical equipment to stay up-to-date with the latest medical research and practice.


Laptops have become an essential tool for medical students. They use them for taking notes, researching medical conditions, and accessing online resources. When purchasing a laptop, it is important to consider factors such as portability, battery life, processing power, and storage capacity. Some popular options include the MacBook Pro, Dell XPS, HP Spectre x360, and Microsoft Surface Book.


Medical software can greatly enhance the learning experience for medical students. Some popular software programs used in medical schools include Anki, Sketchy Medical, Netter’s Anatomy Atlas, and Epocrates. These programs help students study more efficiently and effectively by providing interactive learning experiences, visual aids, and quick access to medical information.

Medical Equipment

Medical equipment plays a crucial role in medical education. Students need access to equipment such as stethoscopes, otoscopes, ophthalmoscopes, and reflex hammers to learn how to perform physical examinations accurately. Some schools provide these items to their students, while others require students to purchase their own. It is important to research and invest in high-quality equipment to ensure accuracy and professionalism in the clinical setting.

Overall, technology and equipment are essential components of modern medical education. Students must stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and equipment to best prepare for their future careers as medical professionals.

Licensing Exams

Licensing Exams

Medical school graduates need to pass licensing exams to become practicing physicians. The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-part exam that assesses the knowledge and skills of medical professionals.


The USMLE consists of three exams:

  • Step 1: Tests basic science knowledge.
  • Step 2: Tests clinical knowledge and skills.
  • Step 3: Tests practical application of medical knowledge.

Each step has its own fees. As of 2021, the fees are as follows:

  • Step 1: $965
  • Step 2 CK: $990
  • Step 2 CS: $1,580
  • Step 3: $895-$1,510 (depending on the testing region)

Licensing Exams

In addition to the USMLE, there are other licensing exams that medical school graduates may need to pass. These include exams for specific medical specialties, such as the NCLEX for nurses and the COMLEX for osteopathic physicians.

The fees for these exams vary depending on the exam and location. For example, the NCLEX-RN exam fee is $200, while the COMLEX Level 1 exam fee is $805.

Exam Fees

The cost of licensing exams can add up quickly, especially when combined with the costs of medical school tuition and living expenses. It’s important for students to budget accordingly and plan ahead for these expenses.

Some schools offer financial assistance for exam fees, so students should check with their schools to see if they qualify for any support. Additionally, some states offer loan repayment programs for physicians who agree to practice in underserved areas, which may cover the cost of licensing exams.

In conclusion, aspiring physicians must pass licensing exams to practice medicine, and it’s important for them to plan and budget for these expenses. While the costs may seem daunting, there are resources available to help alleviate the financial burden.



Attending medical school is a significant investment in your future, both in terms of time and money. As we have seen, the costs associated with pursuing a career in medicine can be substantial, with tuition and fees alone ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, it’s important to remember that the long-term benefits of a medical education can far outweigh these costs. With high demand for qualified physicians, a career in medicine can offer financial stability and job security. In addition, the ability to help others and make a positive impact on people’s lives can be incredibly rewarding.

That being said, it’s essential to budget wisely and plan ahead when considering the costs of medical school. By researching different schools and programs, looking into available scholarships and financial aid, and carefully considering living expenses and other costs, you can better prepare yourself for this investment and minimize your financial burden.

In conclusion, while the costs of attending medical school may seem daunting, the rewards can be immeasurable. By taking a proactive approach to budgeting and financial planning, you can set yourself up for success and achieve your goals in the field of medicine.
Aspiring medical students are understandably concerned about the cost of attending medical school, and rightly so. The expenses can add up quickly, from tuition and fees to housing, books, and other necessities. However, by understanding the various costs associated with medical school and planning ahead, students can make informed decisions about their education and budget accordingly.

When considering medical school costs, it’s important to explore all options, including public and private schools, in-state and out-of-state tuition rates, and scholarships and financial aid opportunities. In addition, living expenses, such as housing, transportation, and food, should be factored into the equation. Other expenses, like textbooks, technology, and licensing exam fees, can also impact the overall cost of attending medical school.

By taking a strategic approach to budgeting for medical school, future doctors can ensure that they are able to obtain a high-quality education without accruing an overwhelming amount of debt. With careful planning, aspiring medical professionals can focus on achieving their career goals and making a positive impact on their communities in the years to come.

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