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Paying for Health Professions Education

There’s no getting around the fact that attending professional school is expensive. The best response is to begin strategizing about managing the expense of applying and attending as soon as possible. We have some suggestions to help with this.

Start Thinking About Finances Early

The vast majority of students in any health professions program pay for their education using loans to cover much or all of the cost. For example, U.S. News and World Report listed the average debt for graduates of M.D. and D.O. medical schools, by school, for 2014. The lowest average debt was $57,328 and the highest was $259,177. The Associations of American Medical Colleges (M.D. schools) produces a debt fact card every year that provides more cumulative data on the debt load of M.D. school graduates. Other healthcare professions schools may be less expensive, but their students also pay for their education primarily through loans.

It’s never too soon to start preparing for the possibility that you might need to qualify for a considerable amount of loans to finance your professional school education. Step one is to limit the debt you accumulate as an undergraduate.


Manage the Expense of the Application Process

The range of cost incurred by the application process itself can vary considerably, depending on the programs you apply to, how many you target, whether travel for interviews is involved, and a range of other factors.

  • Are you pre-med? Then read the UM Career Center’s discussion of the cost of applying to medical school.
  • Determine if you qualify for a Fee Assistance Program (FAP)
    • Many application services have a FAP that reduces the amount of the application and testing fee.
    • Qualification is limited to US citizens, nationals, or permanent residents and is keyed to the U.S. government’s poverty guidelines. (See the AMCAS FAP for an example.)
  • Choose a reasonable list of target schools.
    • If you apply to too many schools, you might run out of the time and money needed to follow up.
    • Your list of schools should include only those you have actually researched and found good reasons for you to apply.
  • Don’t waste application money by applying too late in the cycle; rolling admissions mean earlier is better.

Be an Active Participant in the Financial Aid Process 

If you have been admitted to a program, make sure you understand who you can consult regarding your financial aid questions. As long as you are polite and bring them reasonable requests, financial aid officials at these schools are typically very happy to help.