How About The Cost Of Applying To Medical School?!
Several articles appeared today discussing the exorbitant cost of attending medical school. Maggie Mahar at the Health Beat Blog discusses free tuition and the need to control medical school costs here. I have addressed this issue here.
What struck me about Mahar’s discussion of the subject was a quote at the end of her article:
According to the NEJM, a recent national survey of under-represented students reveals that the cost of attending medical school was the number-one reason they did not apply.
I have no doubt that many under-represented students hear figures like $140,000 in debt and plainly quiet any inner voice telling them to pursue a MD. However, I also wonder how many students do the math, realize that the tremendous earnings potential of a physician would help pay off that mountain of debt, but also realize they can’t even afford to pay to apply to medical school.
How much does it cost to apply to medical school?
At a minimum, $370. This covers ONLY the MCAT fee ($210) and the AMCAS fee for one school ($160). This does not include any sort of preparation material for the MCAT, fees for applying to more than one school (rarely would a person put in the enormous amount of effort to simply reach the application process for medical school–4 years of hard science–and put all their eggs in one basket by applying to one school), secondary application fees (which are generally about $100 per school), or travel expenses for visiting a school for an interview.
MIT’s Career Office conservatively estimates the cost of applying to 15 medical schools to be between $3,414 and $4,290 (see slide 29; also note–this estimate doesn’t include any prep materials for the MCAT which can cost up to $2,000 alone).
Those familiar with the process will say, “Wait! There’s a Fee Assistance Program to help these kids cover those costs!” Yes, it’s true, there is a Fee Assistance Program for qualifying student. This program, however, only reduces the costs of the MCAT and AMCAS application. Some of the other big ticket items are not covered under any assistance program; no assistance program that I’m aware of will provide for travel costs associated with interviewing at different schools.
Under some fairly reasonable and conservative assumptions, simply applying to medical school could cost upwards of $5,000. This alone represents a substantial barrier for under-represented students.