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Applying to medical school is expensive. There’s the cost of applications, travel, accommodations, food, and an outfit, such as a suit. Make sure that you plan accordingly.
This week on Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A, a student named Tyrell called in to ask about the costs of applying to medical school. She’s still very early on in her premed path, but she wants to start saving now. This is a smart thing to do.
So how much should you be saving? How much does it cost to apply to medical school?
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[01:07] How much does it cost to apply to medical school?
Tyrell is an old premed calling from Columbus, Ohio. She said she’s seen data on medical school application fees and secondaries. But she hasn’t found any formal data that looks at the other kinds of expenses involved, such as travel, lodging, food, attire, etc. She’s trying to figure out how to start setting aside money to save up for this future expense.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”How much money should you be saving up and setting aside for medical school application costs?” quote=”How much money should you be saving up and setting aside for medical school application costs?”]
[02:18] Start with Medical School Application Fees
Looking at the basic cost of medical school applications, AMCAS is $160 for the application, and that only includes one school. The average number of schools is fifteen. To add additional schools to your application, that’s $38 each for AMCAS. So that’s a total of $692 to apply to fifteen schools for the AMCAS application. That’s just the primary application.
Now some students apply to both AMCAS (for MD schools) and AACOMAS (for DO schools), and some students apply to fifteen of each.
AACOMAS costs $195 for the initial primary application and $45 for every application after the first one. So if you apply to fifteen DO schools, that’s $895 for the primary application.
If you add those together, the cost of primary applications to 30 total medical schools (15 MD and 15 DO) is $1,587!
[Check out our Medical School Applications Cost Estimator to check your own numbers.]
[04:15] The Cost of Medical School Secondary Applications
Assuming the cost of secondaries is $100 per school (some are $50 and some are $75), and assuming you apply to 30 schools (15 DO and 15 MD) and you turn them all in, that’s $3,000 for secondary applications.
So you’re looking at $3,000 for secondaries, $692 for AMCAS primaries, $895 for the AACOMAS primaries. That’s up to a total of $4,587 (let’s round this up to $4,600) just to apply to medical school. That’s not including all the other associated costs that Tyrell was worried about.
[05:30] Travel, Lodging, and Food Costs for Medical School Interviews
The average cost in 2016 of a domestic roundtrip flight in the U.S. according to airlines.org was $366. And one thing you have to take into account with flying for your interview is that you may get an interview at a school that’s a week from now. So then the price for the ticket is going to be higher.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”When it’s interview season, you may not be afforded the option of buying your plane tickets far in advance.” quote=”When it’s interview season, you may not be afforded the option of buying your plane tickets far in advance.”]
The average hotel cost (as of 2014) is $140. Let’s round that up to $150 for an average hotel night. You’re likely going to stay for two nights. Often there’s pre-interview stuff going on the day before, so you want to be there the night before. And you don’t want to rush out of the interview to catch a flight. So stay the extra night and fly out the next day.
That’s $300 for two hotel nights, plus the $366 for airfare: total of $666 for the flight and hotel. Adding some food expenses, let’s say $45 per day for two days. That’s $90, so let’s round it up to $100 for meals. Now, you’re looking at $750 for the hotel, flight, and food costs for just one interview. And that’s excluding the potential cost of a car rental. Assuming you get three interviews, that’s $750 x 3 = $2,250.
Adding Up All the Costs of Applying to Medical School
Add the $2,250 for three medical school interviews together with the $4,600 you’re already spent for the applications. Let’s say you need a new suit, too, which is another $150-$200. Now you’re in the range of around $8,000 total, assuming you apply to all 30 schools and you submit all 30 secondaries, plus all the other expenses.
[Related post: How Many Medical Schools Should I Apply To?]
[09:56] Who Collects the Application Fees?
It’s a lot of money to apply to medical school. Many students are concerned about the costs of applying to medical school, and as a result, they don’t apply to as many schools.
The initial application is not that much, but the secondaries are what really hurt you financially. And if you know the behind-the-scenes of the application game, there’s an application service that runs these applications (AMCAS and AACOMAS). The service gets all the initial fees, and the schools collect the secondary fees. As the student, you’re getting drained every which way.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”The application service gets the primary fees. The school gets the secondary fees. As the student, you’re getting drained every which way.” quote=”The application service gets the primary fees. The school gets the secondary fees. As the student, you’re getting drained every which way.”]
[10:42] Hidden Costs of Applying to Medical School
You also have to think about any reduction in your income during the application season if you need to reduce your hours or take time off for interviews.
In addition to this, maybe you need to pay boarding for a pet. Or a babysitter. So it’s expensive.
Saving Up the Costs of Applying to Medical School
If you start planning now, it’s doable to save up for your medical school application costs. If you’re two years away from applying and if it’s going to cost around $8,000, you can divide that by 24 months, and it’s $333 per month you should be saving. So it’s doable.
You also have to think about whether you’re paying for mock interviews. I do mock interviews with students. Are you going to pay to have somebody edit your personal statement or your secondaries? Those are extra costs, but they are services that can help you massively along the way.
Again, the application process is expensive, but don’t let that scare you away from applying to medical school. You’re investing in yourself, your career, and what you will be able to contribute for the rest of your life. It’s very worth it.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”The costs of applying to medical school are worth it. You’re investing in yourself, your career, and what you will be able to contribute for the rest of your life.” quote=”The costs of applying to medical school are worth it. You’re investing in yourself, your career, and what you will be able to contribute for the rest of your life.”]
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my Premed Playbook series of books (available on Amazon), with installments on the personal statement, the medical school interview, and the MCAT.
- Related episode: 9 Tips to Successfully Submit Your Med School Applications.
- Related episode: How to Pay Back Your Medical School Loans.
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” for 10% off Next Step full-length practice tests or “MSHQTOC” for $50 off MCAT tutoring or the Next Step MCAT Course at Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)!