How Much Does Medical School Really Cost?

As most medical students know, attending medical school can be quite expensive, often costing thousands of dollars annually for the tuition alone. Therefore, most students focus only on the costs involved when they finally attend. 

However, some students tend to overlook the fees they need to pay when applying to a medical school. From the prep materials to the exam fees, the costs of applying can add up pretty quickly. This is especially true if you’re looking to apply to several schools.

So, how much does applying to med school really cost? In this article, you’ll learn more about the med school application process and how much it will cost you.

 

MCAT Preparation

One of the primary expenses you need to account for when applying to a medical school is how much it would take to prepare for the MCAT. After all, before you can even apply to your school of choice, you’ll first need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

However, if you want to score high on this exam, you’ll need to prepare adequately for it. Of course, there are numerous ways you can prepare for the MCAT. Some of them don’t even have to cost a dime.

Nevertheless, some prefer enrolling in test prep services, ranging from 160 USD to 2,000 USD. In-person prep courses can cost even more, sometimes reaching as high as 6,500 USD, especially for private one-on-one sessions.

The good news is there are many free and low-cost MCAT resources that can help you prepare for the exam without breaking the bank. First, however, you’ll need to sort through the numerous resources available as not all of them are comprehensive enough.

Taking the MCAT: Exam Fees

If you’re done with the preparation period, next comes taking the actual test itself. Nowadays, there are other fees you need to pay when taking the MCAT, but most are more concerned with the registration fee.

Right now, the registration fee for the MCAT is around 320 USD. However, if you register just a few days before the exam date, you’ll pay a higher cost of 375 USD. 

Additionally, this is only if you live in the US. If you’re taking the test outside the country, you’ll need to pay an additional International Registration fee of 115 USD. This means you’ll be spending around 400 to 500 USD to register for the exam.

Aside from these, they can also charge you additional fees should you decide to change your test center or exam date. However, it should be noted that all expenses related to the test center and date changes are temporarily suspended until further notice due to the global pandemic.

You should also note that these fees can increase annually. Hence, it’s best to double-check beforehand, so you’re not taken by surprise by the higher costs.

Suppose you don’t have the financial capacity to pay all the MCAT exam fees. In that case, you can check if you qualify for AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program. If you do, you’ll only have to pay 130 USD for the registration fee, along with other perks. 

 

Medical School Applications

After the MCAT, you can now proceed to the actual application process. This might be the most expensive part of the process, as there are several fees you need to pay when applying. 

  • Primary Application Fee

Most medical schools in the country use AAMC’s centralized application service, the American Medical College Application Service®. They charge an initial application fee of 171 USD for the first school, with an additional 41 USD for every succeeding school you apply to.

It’s a convenient way of submitting your applications to your medical schools of choice, but you should note that not all med schools use the service. 

  • Secondary Application Fee

Next, you’ll have to worry about your secondary application as most medical schools in the country require this as part of the process. Secondary applications come with their own set of fees, and these vary from school to school.

The good news is if you qualified for AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program, some schools would waive the secondary application fee. This is usually good for up to 20 schools of your choice. Still, you should check with your chosen school if you want to be sure.

  • College Service Fees

Most medical schools will require your undergrad transcripts too, and many college registrars charge a small fee for this. 

They also sometimes charge fees for any recommendation letters you need for your application. Again, it’s best to check with your previous school to be sure as the policies can vary from school to school.

 

Other Expenses

The previous sections were just some of the primary expenses you need to consider when applying to medical schools. However, it would be best not to neglect the other incidental costs you need for the process. 

Some of these include:

  • Access to AAMC’s online database, the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), which costs around 28 USD 
  • Travel and accommodation expenses when undergoing medical school interviews
  • Appropriate attire for interviews
  • Campus visits
  • Acceptance deposits
  • And more

Final Thoughts

While most students focus on how much it would cost to attend medical school, some overlook the costs involved in the application process. Some applicants can spend more than 10,000 USD for the application process alone.

If you’re tight on budget, more budget-friendly resources can help ease some of the financial burdens. 

You can also check if you qualify for the Fee Assistance Program. This won’t just reduce your exam fees but also provides several benefits like complimentary access to the MSAR database, free access to test prep materials, and more.

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