Many fight hard to get into medical school, but what comes after the acceptance letter (and the immense joy it brings) is the dread of financing the coming four years. Tuition, living expenses, books, USMLE fees - the list goes on!
Finding a way to pay off the huge amount of tuition and fees while also maintaining your grades, passing USMLEs, balancing your social life, and saving lives can be quite overwhelming. And to top it off - there is a lack of resources to help you make the right financial decision. But that's where we come in.
Before we go into the details, here is a quick order of operations to pay for medical school:
Own Savings ---> Scholarships and Grants ---> Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans ---> Direct PLUS Graduate Loans ---> Private Student Loans
Private student loans are one way to go, and in many cases the only way after exhaustion of personal/family savings and Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans or Direct Plus Graduate Loans! We’ll be talking about these in detail later on.
Not into the idea of loans at all? There are a few other options discussed here.
Before we dive into the 6 best loans for medical school, let’s discuss all of your expenses throughout medical school to give you a proper gauge on how much $$$$ you’ll need:
Average living expenses per month-
Phone and Internet Bills: $165
Car payments: New cars: $568 / Used cars: $467
Average tuition costs-
Private Medical School: $59,555 / Public Medical School: $49,842
Medical School Books and Equipment: $1,240
USMLE applications: $4,039
USMLE exams: $3,067
Residency interviews/traveling for interviews: $4,600
So what are your loan options? We’ll be going down the rabbit-hole from the best options to the worst, so buckle up please!
Moving onto private loans...
We all know that medical school is expensive, and according to the AAMC, the average medical school debt for 2020 graduates was $207,003. Federal Student Loans are the best overall, as they give you access to income-driven payment plans such as Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) and Income-Based Repayment. Citizens Bank’s variable and fixed interest rates are some of the lowest available, and their multiyear approval program qualifies you for multiple years of funding upfront, saving you multiple hard credit checks. College Ave is the best for repayment terms as you have five term options to choose from, and Salli Mae and Ascent medical school loans are the best for flexibility in starting your payments, with a 36-month grace period and the option to defer payments during residency. Ascent borrowers can also get a cash back reward of 1% of the loan’s original principal balance upon graduation.
Good luck financing your medical journey! And we hope you’re taking a moment to congratulate yourself on that acceptance letter! Figuring out the finances is not easy, but we hope these tips will help you navigate the upcoming medical journey.
About the Authors:
Badyah Senussi is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento, with a B.S. in Biomedical Science. During her time at university, she was a Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Facilitator, where she ran a classroom of students, helped them complete worksheets (specifically in physiology), and held office hours. Her ambition is to become a physician with a focus on mental health. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking, and writing jokes in hopes of doing stand-up comedy someday.
Munazza Khan recently graduated from Gulf Medical University with a BS in Biomedical Sciences. As someone who was drawn to Cancer Biology early on in her second year, she is currently researching the immune response to hypoxic stress in a tumor microenvironment and how immunotherapy could be used in the future. She is also an avid cat and plant lover, but sadly, her cat is on a mission to destroy any plants in sight. Her hobbies include playing soccer and board games.