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10 Costs to Expect When Applying to Medical School

Farran Powell , Ilana Kowarski

Costs to apply to med school can stack up.

While most prospective students might be focused on the overall price tag of attending medical school, the cost to apply can often amount to thousands of dollars. "An applicant to 15 medical schools can easily spend over $10,000 in the application process," says Dr. McGreggor Crowley, a medical school admissions counselor at IvyWise, a New York-based admissions consulting company. For prospective students interested in applying to medical school, here are some expenses to expect.

Preparing for the MCAT

While the cost of the MCAT exceeds $300 for those who do not qualify for fee assistance, prospective students can spend much more preparing for the exam. "Many students benefit from test prep services -- those can range from a couple of hundred dollars for practice tests and questions to several thousand dollars for in-person, extended prep courses," says Dr. Sylvie Stacy, a board-certified physician who graduated from the University of Massachusetts--Worcester medical school in 2011.

Taking the MCAT

Prospective students can save money by registering early. The MCAT costs at least $320. For those who register within eight days before the test date, the cost is $375. MCAT test-takers outside the U.S., Canada, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico pay an additional international registration fee of $115.

Access to the MSAR database

Admissions experts recommend using the online Medical School Admission Requirements database compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The MSAR database is a resource that lists information provided by admissions offices at U.S. and Canadian medical schools. The cost to access the database, which is published each spring, is $28 for a one-year subscription.

Primary application fees

The American Medical College Application Service, or AMCAS, is a centralized medical school application clearinghouse. The AMCAS primary application fee is $170 for sending materials to one school and $40 for each additional school. Aspiring doctors who are interested in osteopathic medical schools can file applications via AACOMAS, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service. AACOMAS bills $195 for the first primary application and $45 for every additional primary application. Meanwhile, those who want to attend a public medical school in Texas can submit their primary application materials via the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service, or TMDSAS, which charges a flat fee of $185.

Secondary application fees

After students apply, schools may respond by asking them to submit a secondary application. These vary from school to school, and most require students to pay an additional application fee. "These, of course, have fees associated with them ranging from $75 to over $100," says Dr. Crowley from IvyWise. Harvard Medical School, for instance, charges M.D. hopefuls without an AMCAS fee waiver $100 to file a secondary, or supplemental, application. Students with AMCAS fee waivers do not need to pay this fee.

College registrar services

Most colleges charge a former student a fee for sending transcripts to medical schools. This service might cost around $10 for each transcript, according to Artem Volos, chief financial officer and chief operating officer at ClutchPrep.com, a Florida-based test prep service he co-founded.

Interview travel costs

Medical school interviews can be the most expensive part of the application process, Dr. Crowley says. "Depending on how many schools a student interviews at, it can cost upwards of $500 to $1,000 per school, and interviews at the schools in the same city can be difficult to coordinate for the same trip."

Interview attire

Another expense associated with in-person interviews is clothing, which usually has to be business attire. Justin Hahn, a medical student at the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, wrote in an email: "Buying a suit and paying for alterations also incurred a large one-time expense. However, I was able to reuse the suit for multiple interviews, which helps make up for the expensive cost."

Admitted student campus visit

Students who receive admissions offers are usually invited to campus to take a second look. For example, the medical school at the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor holds a two-day second-look weekend for admitted students in the spring. "If a student is admitted to a medical school, they may want to travel back to that school for an admitted student experience, again footing the bill themselves for transportation, food and lodging," Dr. Crowley says, comparing the costs of a second-look experience with traveling for school interviews.

Acceptance deposits

Some medical schools require a deposit, often nonrefundable, to hold a spot. The fee usually will keep an acceptance in place until May while an applicant decides where to attend. The medical school at Georgetown University, for instance, charges $500 for a deposit. Hahn, the Nova Southeastern student, says a prospective student "can spend anywhere from $500 to $3,000 for deposit fees."

More on applying to medical school

Learn whether you are ready to pay for medical school and access our complete Best Medical Schools rankings for research and primary care. For more advice and information on how to select a medical school, follow U.S. News Education on Twitter and Facebook.

Medical school application costs

-- Preparing for the MCAT

-- Taking the MCAT

-- Access to the MSAR database

-- Primary application fees

-- Secondary application fees

-- College registrar services

-- Interview travel costs

-- Interview attire

-- Admitted student campus visit

-- Acceptance deposits

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