How much does medical school cost?
While the summer sun might have your attention currently, back-to-school season will be here before you know it. That makes now a good time to start thinking about how to pay for educational expenses, including the cost of medical school.
Begin exploring your college financing options here.
On average, medical school costs a total of $230,296, which averages out to $57,574 per year, according to an analysis by the Education Data Initiative.
Out-of-state private medical school can be even more expensive, costing an average of $256,412, according to the Education Data Initiative. If you go to an in-state public school, though, your medical school costs can be substantially less at an average cost of $159,620.
But whatever your cost, it's hard to afford medical school through savings alone. In many cases, medical school students turn to federal and private student loans. Federal student loans often offer more attractive features, but sometimes private student loans are necessary to close a funding gap. They can also sometimes have lower interest rates.
Compare private student loan rates online now.
For federal student loans, medical school students often have two main options:
Other types of federal student aid, such as Perkins Loans and the Primary Care Loan Program, might also be available, but these have narrower use cases.
One thing to keep in mind with federal student loans is that initial interest rates aren't the end-all-be-all. For those who end up working for a nonprofit (which many hospitals are) or the government, that "can qualify them to have federal student loans discharged" after 10 years of on-time payments, says Geist.
Income-driven repayment can also help when it comes to managing federal student loans, he adds.
While federal student loans can offer many advantages, sometimes medical school students need private student loans to close a gap federal student loans don't cover.
"Private loans might come with higher borrowing limits, which makes them a useful supplement to federal loans, but that borrowing limit depends a lot on students' creditworthiness," says Elizabeth Pennington, CFP, senior associate at Fearless Finance.
It's possible that medical school students can save money on interest payments with private student loans, but it depends on the circumstances, including whether there's an option for federal loan forgiveness or forbearance.
"The main advantage of private loans, in my view, is if you get a significantly lower interest rate than federal loans. In 2020 or 2021, for example, it may have made sense to pursue private loans if interest rates were 3% to 4%," says Pennington.
"However, federal loans have some serious advantages over private loans, including the possibility of forbearance like we saw during COVID, the ability to choose an income-based repayment plan and the ability to have the remainder of your loans forgiven after 20 to 25 years, or 10 years if you qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness," she adds.
When considering a private medical school loan, be sure to shop around to see how rates compare among different student loan companies. Rates can vary significantly depending on the lender and your financial circumstances.
See how much you can borrow with a private student loan today.
Medical school tuition can be expensive, so it's important to carefully weigh financing options and see what makes sense for your future. And it's not just a matter of choosing between different types of student loans.
For example, getting federal loans forgiven via public service work may sound appealing, but it's possible that taking out federal or private student loans and then working in a private practice leads to a better overall financial situation.
"Consider the trade-off in salary vs. loan forgiveness when weighing the value of those jobs," says Pennington.
The good news is that medical school students can often look forward to a promising career.
"Demand for newly trained physicians is extremely robust," says Leah Grant, interim president of AMN Healthcare Physician Solutions. "Our survey data shows that the majority of graduating residents receive 50 or more recruiting offers during the course of their training."And in a competitive market, "some employers offer to help pay off physician educational loans, with an average payment amount of $101,572," she adds. "Physicians who are concerned about their debt load can seek private practice employers who offer loan repayment."