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3 Unorthodox Ways to Pay for Med School

Going to med school is not for the faint of heart, mind, or wallet. With the cost of tuition and the number of medical school applicants on the rise, we’ve outlined ways you can offset the expense of a medical education.

Amazingly, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, applications to med school increased an astonishing 463% on the opening day of registration. And though that was due strongly to pent up demand, it is also a testament to the overall quality of students produced by American colleges and universities. Yet, it doesn’t explain how these aspiring clinicians and researchers will be able to afford med school.

The average cost of one year of medical school is enough to give even the most dedicated student pause. With tuition ranging between $25,000 and $65,000 per year depending on whether it’s a public or private institution, med school is a significant investment.

Here are three ways you can defray the cost of med school.

1) Apply for Scholarships and Grants

You probably applied for scholarships when you applied to undergraduate school and even considered doing a combination BS/MD program to save money. Have you considered looking for merit- or need-based aid for med school? There are several ways you can cut the cost of tuition.

  • Look for local scholarshipsHospitals, rotary clubs, and professional organizations are great places to start, John Gracey of the University of Central Florida College of Medicine told U.S. News and World Report. Even if they’re small-dollar awards, keep applying, because when added together they can put a dent in the total bill.
  • Don’t overlook national scholarships – Local scholarships may mean less competition but national scholarships could be easier to apply for and many don’t require essays. Some are even earmarked for loan paybacks.
  • Apply for grants or loansJust like undergrad, you can apply for federally-backed loans to pay for medical school. But keep in mind that there are limits on how much you can borrow.
  • Apply for scholarships you can use at any med school – These scholarships, including the Black Medical Students Scholarship and the Natalya Beneschott Scholarship for Medical School Students, are only for adults specifically applying to med school. 
  • Apply for a scholarship at your med school – Many medical schools, such as UCLA, the University of Pennsylvania, and others, offer generous scholarships to highly qualified accepted students. Just make sure you nail that med school interview first. 

2) Work Part-Time

Is it possible to work part-time and go to medical school at the same time? Yes, current medical students say. Kaitlyn Rizzo told Atlantis that she works as a part-time online tutor from the comfort of her own home and in her (albeit limited) free time.

The key to success is choosing a job that suits your already-demanding schedule. Online tutoring, as Rizzo does, is an ideal option. Other suitable possibilities include personal training or fitness instruction (since licensing requirements are made easier with a background in medicine) or working part-time as an EMT, which will help bolster your medical training with on-the-ground experience many of your classmates may not be getting. 

3) Commit to Service

Service commitments are a fantastic way to win a full scholarship to medical school. There are several options.

The first is the National Health Service Corps. Agree to practice medicine in an underserved community and this scholarship program will forgive your student debt. A similar program is the Indian Health Service. If you don’t find either idea appealing, check the American Association of Medical Colleges Loan Repayment, Loan Forgiveness, and Scholarship Programs database.

Finally, the Health Professions Scholarship Program provides full-tuition payment for medical students who agree to serve a term in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The program currently is active for the Army, Navy, and Air Force.


Before you agree to any service-sponsored scholarship program, review the terms and conditions carefully. Medical school is already a years-long commitment. You’ll want to feel confident that this is your true vocation before agreeing to serve for years after your formal education ends.

Lisa Bigelow

Lisa Bigelow writes for Bold and is an award-winning content creator, personal finance expert, and mom of three fantastic almost-adults. In addition to MedSchoolCoach.com, Lisa has contributed to OnEntrepreneur, College Money Tips, Finovate, Finance Buzz, Life and Money by Citi, MagnifyMoney, Well + Good, Smarter With Gartner, and Popular Science. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

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