Tips on Managing the Expense of Applying to Med School

By Elana Goodwin on January 4, 2017

This article is brought to you by Kaplan, the leader in test prep for over 90 standardized tests, including the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT.

If you’re thinking of going to med school or planning to apply next year, you might want to start preparing and saving now. Applying to med school can be expensive — and those expenses are all before you even get into or attend medical school, which is no cheap venture either.

Here are some tips on and information about how to manage the expense of applying to med school — and what you can do to help pay for your application fees.

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The cost of applying to med school will vary, typically falling into one of three categories. The first category is the primary application fee, which is usually through the Association of American Medical College’s (AAMC) American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). For 2017, the fee is $160 for the first school you apply to and $38 for each additional school. The service allows you to submit a single set of application materials and have them sent to the med schools you choose. If you’re applying to a medical school that doesn’t use AMCAS, there may be other fees you have to pay in order to send in your application.

The second category is the secondary application fee since most med schools want a secondary application in addition to your primary one. The fees for this application usually range from being free to $150. If you qualify for the AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program, some med schools will waive the fee for your secondary application.

Lastly, there may be college service fees you have to pay when applying to med school. This is a small fee for having your college send your transcript from the registrar to the medical schools you choose; there’s also sometimes a fee for the sending of letters of recommendation.

Besides application fees, before you’re even able to apply to med school, you’ll have to take the MCAT exam — which isn’t a cheap test. You’ll probably want to shell out some money on MCAT test prep books and maybe purchase a few books that’ll provide insight into the different medical schools across the country and the med school application process.

The basic registration fee for the MCAT is $310, which covers the costs of the test and the distribution of your scores. Other fees you may incur when signing up for a MCAT exam include late registration fees and a fee for changes to your reservation. Of course, there’s also the expenses of traveling and transportation and lodging when the time comes for you to have medical school interviews. These costs all add up to a significant total when all is said and done.

With all these fees looming ahead of you, if you plan to apply to medical school it’s good to start budgeting and saving early. For eligible applications, the Fee Assistance Program (FAP) is a great resource provided through the AAMC that will help subsidize the costs of applying to med school by giving those eligible a fee reduction for the MCAT and a fee waiver for med school applications, in addition to other benefits. If you think you may be eligible for the FAP, do some research into the program and apply.

If you’re not eligible for the FAP or need to get some money together to pay for expenses not covered by the FAP, here are some tips.

An easy way to help manage the expenses of applying to med school is to curb your spending habits, thus helping your bank account remain healthier. Cut down on things like eating out and getting a coffee every day and instead cook at home more and invest in a coffeemaker. Do some comparison shopping before buying textbooks for the semester and rent, buy used, or see if you can borrow the textbooks you need from your campus library. You should also take a look at how much money you’re spending on entertainment and the like to see if there are any things you can cut out or reduce so you can save more money.

Another great method to help with med school application expenses is to sell stuff. You might have clothes you don’t wear anymore, textbooks from last semester, gift cards to places you don’t shop at, etc. that you can sell to other college students to make some money. Perhaps you’re really good at something that others would be willing to pay for — consider if there are any services you could provide (from dog walking to tutoring to cleaning to photography) that would also help you raise some money you could put aside for your med school applications and other expenses.

Applying to medical school can be expensive — so it’s best you start planning and saving early so you can afford to pay for all the necessary components that go with med school applications and testing without breaking the bank.

Learn more about Kaplan’s test prep options and start building the confidence you need for Test Day.

By Elana Goodwin

Uloop Writer
I love reading, writing, and sweater weather. Also, dogs. That is all. Follow me on Twitter at @EllaRayy!

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