Medical school is expensive and the last thing you want is to be in serious debt before you even start. Nowadays, students are applying to as many as 25 medical schools, and this certainly isn’t a cheap process. When applying via AMCAS, students will pay $160 for the first application, then $38 for each subsequent application.
So, for the student who applies to 25 schools, that’s $1,072. Oh ya, then there’s the cost of secondary applications, oh, let’s not forget plane tickets, hotels, food, etc. Let’s assume a student applies to 25 medical schools, submits 10 secondary applications, and interviews at 5 medical schools; you can approximate an overall cost of $3,000+. That’s a lot of money, especially for a college student who at the time of applying might not have any money. But there is hope and you don’t have to go into debt during this process. Here are 3 strategies to help you in the process.
- Save money ahead of time. Most students who apply to medical school don’t make the decision to apply the night before the portals open. As a matter of fact, it’s likely that you started your college career with this dream in mind. This being the case, premeds should start saving for the application process as soon as they decide to pursue a career in medicine. Many students work a few hours a week in a research lab, library, tutoring center, or at a restaurant. If it is at all possible, save some of that money in a special bank account…and don’t touch it! $10 a week saved will go a long way towards your applications.
- Apply strategically. Too many students take the shotgun approach when applying to medical school. They apply to schools that they’ve never even heard of, purely out of desperation to gain acceptance anywhere. Yes, it is true that medical school admission seems more competitive than ever (and that’s likely not going to change anytime soon in the current economic market), but you can still be wise when applying. In other words, do your research on schools to find your best fit schools. Take advantage of free resources such as PreMed StAR and local/national recruitment fairs (many fairs have travel awards) to showcase yourself as a great candidate and allow medical schools to reach out to you ahead of time and in doing so, demonstrate their interest. Ultimately, you want to apply to schools where you have a good chance of gaining admission, otherwise, you might as well throw your money in the trash.
- Take advantage of assistance programs. Medical schools and application services understand that many premedical students simply can’t afford to apply to very many schools. Because this is the case, they offer a variety of fee assistance programs (AMCAS Fee Assistance Program & AACOMAS Fee Assistance).
Utilizing these 3 strategies, premedical students should be able to avoid going into debt when applying to medical school. In order to be successful at it, you have to be disciplined with saving, wise with your choices of schools to apply to, and resourceful in finding assistance to pay. But still in the end, if you arrive at application day with no financial means, and if being a doctor is your destiny, you just may need to go into some debt. In this case, keep in mind that it is just an investment, and if you perform well in medical school, the returns will be worthwhile.
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