10 Costs to Expect When Applying to Medical School
Are you ready to take the leap into the world of medicine, chasing your dreams of becoming a healthcare professional? But as you stand at the threshold of medical school, you may find yourself facing a daunting question: “How much will it cost me?”
For prospective medical school applicants, the path to acceptance is not just paved with dedication and hard work; it also comes with a price tag. In this blog, we’ll uncover the financial landscape of applying to medical school, exploring the costs you need to expect, strategies to manage them, and valuable resources to help you succeed.
So, let’s dive into the world of medical school admissions, decode the expenses, and ensure your dream remains within financial reach.
But before we start, here’s a comprehensive overview:
|Primary Application Fees
|Cost of applying through AMCAS or AACOMAS
|Varies by number of schools
|Secondary Application Fees
|Fees for secondary applications
|$75 to $150 per school
|MCAT Examination Costs
|MCAT registration fees, including fee assistance program
|$135 to $330
|Cost of MCAT preparation materials and courses
|$160 to $2,000
|Access to the MSAR Database
|Cost of accessing the MSAR database
|$28 (one-year subscription)
|Cost of the CASPer test
|$85 + $15 per additional school
|USMLE/COMLEX Exam Test
|Costs for USMLE Step 1, Step 3, and COMLEX Level 1 and 3
|$660 to $1,000
|Costs associated with medical school interviews
|Approximately $1,000 per interview
1: The Cost of Medical School Applications
– Initial fee of $170 for the first school
– Additional $43 for each extra school
– Total application cost ranging from $70-800, depending on the number of schools applied to
The primary application process for medical school typically involves using either the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) for MD programs or the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) for DO programs, depending on your career aspirations. Let’s dive into the costs involved:
AMCAS Application Fees
For the 2023 application cycle, the AMCAS charges an initial fee of $170 for the first school you apply to. This is your first step into the world of medical school applications. However, here’s where it gets important to plan strategically. If you’re casting a wider net and applying to more than one school (which is quite common), each additional school you add to your list will incur an extra charge of $43.
Consequently, the total cost of applying to medical school can vary significantly. It might range from a more modest $70 for applying to a single school to a more substantial $800 if you’re applying to several institutions.
Budgeting Is Key
Budgeting is your trusted ally when navigating the application process. Why is it so crucial?
Because applying to medical school isn’t solely about sending out applications; it’s about making well-informed choices. On average, applicants spend approximately $985 on application fees alone. It’s a significant investment, and prudent financial planning is essential.
Take into account the number of schools you plan to apply to, and factor in those additional fees for each one. This way, you can anticipate the total cost and allocate your resources wisely.
Although not directly related to the primary application process, it’s worth mentioning that some medical schools may require deposit fees to secure your spot if you’re fortunate enough to receive an admission offer.
These fees can vary widely, so it’s essential to check with the specific schools you’re interested in. These deposits are typically credited toward your tuition, but the amounts and policies can differ from one institution to another.
2: MCAT Exam Costs
– U.S. Examinees: $330
– International Test Takers: $450
– Fee Assistance Program (FAP) Eligible Applicants: $135
Additional Costs for International Students:
– International Fee: $115
– Local Taxes (varies by location)
As of September 2023, the MCAT registration fee varies based on your location and eligibility for the AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program (FAP). Here’s the breakdown:
U.S. Examinees: $330
If you’re a U.S. resident, the standard MCAT registration fee stands at $330. This is the baseline cost that most test takers in the United States will encounter. It’s a significant investment in your future, and understanding this upfront cost is essential for planning your MCAT journey.
International Test Takers: $450
For international students planning to take the MCAT outside of the United States, the registration fee is slightly higher at $450. This accounts for the added logistical complexities of international testing. While it’s a bit more expensive, it’s a necessary step in your pursuit of medical education.
Fee Assistance Program (FAP): $135
If you meet the eligibility criteria for the AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program (FAP), you’re in luck. FAP is designed to support aspiring medical students with demonstrated financial need.
For those who qualify, the registration fee is significantly reduced to just $135, regardless of whether you’re a U.S. resident or an international student. FAP can be a game-changer for individuals facing financial constraints, making the MCAT more accessible.
Additional Costs to Consider
For international students, there are a couple of additional costs to be aware of:
International Fee: $115
On top of the standard registration fee, international test takers are required to pay an additional $115. This fee contributes to covering the administrative and logistical aspects of international MCAT testing. It’s an important component to factor into your budgeting, as it ensures a smooth testing experience regardless of your location.
Depending on your testing location, you may also be subject to local taxes. These taxes can vary widely and are determined by the specific region where you’re taking the MCAT. While these costs may be modest in some cases, it’s prudent to check the local tax requirements to avoid any unexpected financial surprises.
Rescheduling and Score Sending Fees
Life can be unpredictable, and sometimes, you may need to adjust your MCAT test date. In such cases, a rescheduling fee applies. This fee can vary, so it’s advisable to check the latest information on the AAMC website. Planning ahead and anticipating potential changes can help you minimize this cost.
Score Sending Charges
Sending your MCAT scores to medical schools is a critical part of the application process. While the initial score report to one school is included in your registration fee, sending scores to additional schools may incur additional charges. These fees can vary, depending on the number of schools you’re applying to and other factors. It’s a good practice to confirm these costs with the AAMC and budget accordingly.
3: Preparing for the MCAT
– Online MCAT Prep Courses: $160 to $2,000
– In-person Courses or Group Tutoring: $500 to $2,000
MCAT preparation costs can vary based on your preferences and resources. Let’s break down the financial aspects:
– Online MCAT Prep Courses: These courses typically range from $160 to $2,000. Online options provide flexibility, allowing you to study at your own pace and access a wide array of resources, from practice exams to review materials.
– In-person Courses or Group Tutoring: If you prefer a more structured and classroom-style approach, in-person courses or group tutoring can be a great choice. These options often cost between $500 and $2,000.
They offer face-to-face interactions with instructors and peers, promoting a collaborative learning environment.
Read More: MCAT Comprehensive Guide
The Advantages of Investing in MCAT Prep
Choosing to invest in MCAT prep is more than a financial commitment; it’s an investment in your future as a medical professional. Here’s why making this investment is a smart move:
- Comprehensive Content: MCAT prep courses provide an extensive collection of study materials. From comprehensive review books to practice exams, they ensure you have the resources needed to tackle every aspect of the MCAT. This comprehensive approach guarantees that you’re well-prepared for the exam’s content.
- Structured Learning: MCAT prep courses offer a well-organized curriculum and study plan. This structured approach ensures that you cover all the necessary material systematically, minimizing the risk of missing crucial topics.
- Accountability: Following a structured study plan means you have built-in accountability. Knowing that you have a schedule to adhere to can motivate you to stay disciplined in your preparation, preventing procrastination.
- Personalized Support: Many MCAT prep courses grant access to instructors who can provide guidance, clarify doubts, and offer valuable exam-taking tips. This personalized support is invaluable, especially when you encounter challenging concepts or questions.
- Practice Makes Perfect: MCAT prep courses usually include an abundance of practice tests and questions. These resources are essential for getting accustomed to the format and timing of the MCAT. Practicing under exam conditions boosts your confidence and helps you perform at your best on test day.
Suggested Resource: Jack Westin’s Complete MCAT Prep Course
While there’s no shortage of MCAT prep options, one resource that comes highly recommended is Jack Westin’s MCAT Prep Course.
This course combines the best of both worlds: flexibility and effectiveness. It offers a structured curriculum with access to a vast library of practice questions and passages, ensuring you’re thoroughly prepared for the MCAT’s unique challenges.
Jack Westin’s course goes beyond rote memorization; it focuses on developing your critical thinking and reasoning skills, which are crucial for success on the MCAT. Plus, it’s an affordable option that delivers exceptional value for your investment.
4. Access to the MSAR Database
– One-Year Subscription: $28
– Two-Year Subscription: $36
Embarking on the journey to medical school is an exciting and challenging endeavor. One of the critical tools that can significantly ease the process is the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) database. The MSAR database is more than just a repository of information; it’s your compass in navigating the complex landscape of medical school admissions. Here’s why it’s a must-have resource:
1. Comprehensive Admission Requirements
Within the MSAR, you’ll find a goldmine of information detailing each university’s admission prerequisites and expectations.
From the specific courses required to the preferred extracurricular activities, it offers a comprehensive view of what each medical school is seeking in its applicants. This knowledge empowers you to tailor your application to meet their criteria.
2. Insightful Statistics
Statistics can be powerful indicators of your potential success. The MSAR provides valuable data, such as the median GPA and MCAT scores of the college’s matriculants.
This information paints a clear picture of the academic caliber expected at each institution. Additionally, you’ll gain insights into the average MCAT score, GPA, and the number of applicants from the previous admissions cycle. These figures can help you gauge your competitiveness.
3. Informed Decision-Making:
With the MSAR, you can make informed decisions about where to apply. Armed with a deep understanding of each medical school’s requirements and historical data, you can strategically select institutions that align with your academic qualifications and career aspirations.
This tailored approach increases your chances of gaining admission to schools that suit your profile.
The Cost of Accessing the MSAR Database
While the MSAR website offers a free subscription, it’s essential to recognize the limitations of this free access. To unlock the full potential of the MSAR and enjoy all its features, a subscription is necessary. Here’s what you need to know about the cost:
– One-Year Subscription: Opting for a one-year subscription to the MSAR database will cost you $28. This subscription spans an entire year, allowing ample time for thorough research and careful selection of medical schools that match your goals.
– Two-Year Subscription: For those who prefer an extended planning horizon, a two-year subscription is available for $36. This extended access ensures that you have a complete understanding of your options and offers more flexibility in your decision-making process.
It’s important to note that the prices of MSAR subscriptions cover more than just access to the database itself. They also encompass college tuition, application fees, and MCAT course fees. This makes the investment even more cost-effective for aspiring medical students.
Note: Applicants who qualify for the AAMC Fee Assistance Program (FAP) are granted access to the MSAR database through the end of their qualified year.
This inclusion is a valuable benefit for FAP recipients, as it ensures that financial constraints do not hinder their access to this indispensable resource. It underscores the commitment to leveling the playing field in medical school admissions.
5. Primary Application Fees
– First School Application: $170
– Additional School Applications: $43 each
The path to medical school begins with the primary application process, and understanding the associated fees is crucial. In this section, we’ll explore the application fees for primary application services, highlighting the differences between AMCAS and AACOMAS.
AMCAS Application Fees
The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is a central hub for medical school applications. It streamlines the process, making it easier for aspiring medical students to apply to multiple schools. Here’s a breakdown of the AMCAS application fees for the 2023 cycle:
– First School: To initiate your application with AMCAS, you’ll pay an initial fee of $170 for the first school you apply to. This fee covers the basic processing of your primary application.
– Additional Schools: If you decide to cast a wider net and apply to more than one medical school, there is an added charge of $43 for each additional school. This fee applies for every extra school you choose to send your application to.
It’s important to note that the average number of medical schools applicants apply to is around fifteen. So, while the initial fee might seem substantial, it’s an investment in your future medical career.
Key Dates for AMCAS Application
To plan your application effectively, it’s also important to be aware of the key dates associated with AMCAS:
– Application Opening: The AMCAS application opens on May 2, 2023. This marks the beginning of the application season.
– Application Submission: You can submit your completed AMCAS application starting on May 30, 2023. It’s essential to ensure that your application is complete and accurate before submission.
– Transmission to Medical Schools: Verified AMCAS applications are transmitted to medical schools starting on June 30, 2023. This is when your application begins to make its way to your chosen medical schools for consideration.
Fee Assistance Program for Qualifying Applicants
For aspiring medical students facing financial constraints, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers a Fee Assistance Program.
This program is designed to support qualifying applicants by reducing or waiving certain fees associated with the application process. It aims to ensure that financial limitations do not hinder individuals from pursuing their dreams of becoming medical professionals.
Note: It’s important to remember that while AMCAS is a widely used primary application service, not all medical schools exclusively use it. Some medical schools, particularly those in the osteopathic field, use the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) instead.
The application process and fees for AACOMAS may differ from those of AMCAS, so it’s essential to research the specific requirements of the schools you intend to apply to.
6. Secondary Application Fees
– Cost Range: $75 to $150 per school
– Average Cost: Approximately $100 per school
After submitting your primary application through services like AMCAS, the journey continues with the secondary application phase. Most medical schools require this additional step to gather more detailed information about you and your qualifications. Here’s what you need to know:
– Cost Range: Secondary application fees typically fall in the range of $75 to $150 per school. The average cost hovers around $100 per school. While this might seem like an added expense, it’s a critical part of the process.
– Consistency: The majority of medical schools charge around $100 for their secondary applications. However, it’s essential to check the specific fees for each school you plan to apply to, as they may vary.
Tailoring Your Responses: The Key to Success
One of the most critical aspects of the secondary application is the essay or prompt responses. Medical schools use these essays to gain deeper insights into your motivations, experiences, and character. It’s not just about submitting generic answers; it’s about crafting responses that resonate with each school’s mission and values.
Here are some tips for tailoring your secondary application responses effectively:
- Research Each School: Before tackling the secondary application essays, thoroughly research each medical school’s mission, values, and unique characteristics. Understand what sets them apart and how you align with their goals.
- Customize Your Responses: Tailor your essay responses to each school’s specific prompts. Highlight experiences, achievements, or values that directly relate to what the school is looking for in its students.
- Show Genuine Interest: Express genuine enthusiasm for each school. Explain why you are drawn to their program and how you can contribute to their community.
- Avoid Generic Answers: Steer clear of generic or boilerplate responses that could apply to any school. Admissions committees can easily spot lack of effort or enthusiasm.
- Proofread and Edit: Ensure your responses are polished, well-written, and free from errors. Sloppy writing or typos can detract from your application.
Note: For students who are eligible for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Fee Assistance Program (FAP), there’s good news. Some medical schools may waive the secondary application fees for FAP recipients. This is a significant benefit that can ease the financial burden of the application process.
7. College Registrar Services
– Transcript Fees: Typically $5 to $15 per transcript
– Electronic vs. Paper Transcripts: Consider the format preferred by medical schools
Official transcripts are a crucial component of your medical school application. They provide a detailed record of your academic history, including your courses, grades, and degree conferral. Here’s what you need to know about the costs:
– Transcript Fees: The cost of obtaining official transcripts can vary widely depending on your institution’s policies. Many colleges and universities charge a nominal fee per transcript. This fee typically ranges from $5 to $15 per transcript. However, it’s essential to check with your specific institution for their pricing structure.
– Electronic vs. Paper Transcripts: Some institutions offer both electronic and paper transcripts. Electronic transcripts are often less expensive and faster to deliver. However, some medical schools may have preferences regarding the format of transcripts, so it’s advisable to check with your prospective schools.
– Additional Costs: Keep in mind that if you need multiple transcripts sent to various medical schools, the costs can add up. Therefore, it’s essential to plan ahead and budget for these expenses during your application process.
8. CASPer Test
– Test Fee: $85
– Distribution to Eight Programs: Included in the base fee
– Additional Programs (beyond eight): $15 each
The CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) test is a situational judgment test designed to assess non-cognitive skills and interpersonal characteristics of applicants.
It’s a 90-110 minute evaluation that presents you with a series of scenarios to gauge how you would respond in real-life situations. These scenarios are divided into five word-based scenarios and nine video-based scenarios.
See Also: Casper Strategy Course by Jack Westin
The Expenses Related to CASPer Test
For the 2023 medical school application cycle, the cost to take the CASPer test is $85. Here’s what this fee includes:
– Distribution to Eight Programs: The base fee of $85 covers the distribution of your CASPer test results to up to eight medical school programs of your choice. This means you can send your CASPer scores to multiple schools within this limit without incurring additional charges.
– Additional Programs: If you intend to apply to more than eight medical school programs that require CASPer, there’s an additional fee of $15 for each extra program beyond the initial eight. It’s important to budget for these additional costs if you have a long list of schools you’re interested in.
– Covering All Applicable Parts: The CASPer test has various components, including Snapshot and Duet. The fees you pay encompass all these parts, ensuring that your CASPer test is complete and thorough.
Note: It’s crucial to note that while the CASPer test is an essential requirement for some medical schools, not all institutions include it in their application process. Therefore, before registering and paying for the CASPer test, carefully review the admission requirements of each medical school you intend to apply to. Check whether CASPer is listed as a mandatory component of their application.
9. USMLE/COMLEX Exam Test
– US/Canada Students (Step 1): $660
– International Medical Graduates (IMGs) (Step 1): $1,000
– USMLE Step 3 Application Fee: $915
USMLE Additional Notes:
– Potential Step 1 fee increase in 2024 to $670
– International surcharge for students outside the US: Around $200
COMLEX Exam Costs:
– COMLEX Level 1 (Starting May 2023): $715
– COMLEX Level 3 (Starting January 2023): $910
The USMLE and COMLEX exams are comprehensive assessments designed to evaluate your knowledge, skills, and readiness for medical practice. They are essential steps towards obtaining medical licensure in the United States. Here’s a brief overview:
– USMLE: The USMLE is a multi-step examination for allopathic (MD) medical students.
– COMLEX: It is the equivalent examination for osteopathic (DO) medical students. It also comprises multiple levels, with Level 1, Level 2 CE (Cognitive Evaluation), and Level 3. Similar to the USMLE, each level assesses different competencies and proficiencies.
The Expenses Related to USMLE and COMLEX Exams
Understanding the costs associated with these exams is vital for effective planning. Here’s a breakdown of the expenses for both USMLE and COMLEX:
– USMLE Step 1: As of 2023, the cost for US and Canada students is $660. For international medical graduates (IMGs), the fee is $1,000. It’s important to note that the USMLE Step 1 exam fee may increase to $670 in 2024. Additionally, students outside the US may have to pay an international surcharge of around $200.
– USMLE Step 3: The application fee for the USMLE Step 3 is $915 for eligibility periods ending in 2023. This fee covers a three-month eligibility period. Keep in mind that rescheduling an exam date less than 46 days in advance may incur additional fees.
– COMLEX Level 1: Starting in May 2023, the cost of the COMLEX Level 1 exam is $715.
– COMLEX Level 3: Beginning in January 2023, the COMLEX Level 3 costs $910.
Note: It’s crucial to note that not all medical schools require USMLE or COMLEX exams as part of their admission criteria. The necessity of these exams often depends on the type of medical program (MD or DO) and the specific requirements of each institution.
10. Medical School Interview
– Average Cost: Approximately $1,000 per interview
– Cost per School: Typically ranges from $500 to $1,000 per school
Participating in interviews at medical schools can indeed be one of the more expensive aspects of the application process. The costs associated with interviews can vary, so let’s break them down:
– Average Interview Cost: On average, the cost of a single medical school interview can amount to around $1,000. However, it’s essential to note that this figure can fluctuate depending on several factors.
– Variability in Costs: The cost of interviews is not fixed and can fluctuate widely based on how many schools a student interviews at. It’s common for interview expenses to range from $500 to $1,000 per school. Therefore, the total cost can increase significantly if you are interviewing at multiple institutions.
Consider Virtual Interviews as a Cost-Saving Alternative
In recent times, the option of virtual interviews has gained popularity, offering a more cost-effective alternative. Here’s why you should consider this option:
– Cost Savings: Virtual interviews typically entail lower costs than traditional in-person interviews. You can save money on travel, accommodation, and other associated expenses.
– Convenience: Virtual interviews provide the convenience of participating from the comfort of your own space. This can reduce the stress and logistical challenges often associated with in-person interviews.
– Accessibility: Virtual interviews open doors for applicants who might face geographical or financial barriers to attending in-person interviews. This ensures a level playing field for all candidates.
It’s worth noting that not all medical schools offer virtual interviews, so it’s essential to check with each institution regarding their interview format and requirements.
As we’ve discussed, budgeting and careful planning are essential to ensure that the financial aspects of your application process don’t hinder your dreams of becoming a medical professional.
Whether it’s the expenses of applications, MCAT preparation, interviews, or exams, being well-prepared can alleviate financial stress and allow you to focus on your academic and professional goals.
Additionally, as you embark on your MCAT preparation journey, we invite you to explore Jack Westin’s MCAT Prep Course. This resource offers a structured curriculum, access to a vast library of practice materials, and a focus on critical thinking and reasoning skills—qualities essential for MCAT success.
Investing in your preparation is an investment in your future as a medical student, and Jack Westin’s course is designed to support you on your path to achieving your dream of medical school acceptance. We wish you all the best in your pursuit of a fulfilling and rewarding career in medicine!