Medical school is expensive. With all of the infrastructure and resources needed to train a medical student, it can cost almost six figures a year to train a single medical student; after government subsidies tuition can be brought down to a range between $10-20,000 per year. As seen in this Maclean’s breakdown, some programs cost less, others more. Still, the average tuition compared to many other professional programs is costly. Factor in living expenses and other miscellaneous costs and the debt rises quickly.
There are a number of ways that medical students tackle tuition and it all depends on the circumstances and what they are comfortable with. The best way to figure out how to approach the problem is to find out where you stand and what your needs are. Here are the options that I have seen personally.
- Familial financial support: For a younger population of students, this is commonly part of the solution. Those who may not have had years to save income or work may fall into this category. Do not forget to thank your parents.
- Personal Savings: Some students, especially the older ones who have had years of work experience, have some savings that allow them to pursue medicine with less financial burden.
- Student loans: This is part of the solution but never the complete picture. Student loans are given based on need and generally do not cover the full amount of tuition.
- Line of credit: A very popular choice among students is a personal line of credit. These can range from $150-200,000 and gives students a lot of space for their tuition and some living expenses.
- Continued earnings: Some students in medicine continue to work part time to pay back their loans and line of credit, others have investments that provide income. Property renting is the most common one I have seen and can deliver decent incomes that cover living expenses and tuition needs.
- Partner income: Some students afford to go to school while being supported by their partner. A spouse or common-law is required, not included.
- Government contracting: There is constantly a shortage of doctors in rural and remote areas of this country. For those who are certain they would like to work in these underserved areas, a quick signature on a binding contract can waive your tuition costs in exchange for a few years of service at an area of their choosing.
- Military: This can be a great choice as there is a combination of tuition coverage, income and pension building all while in medical school. Again, it is expected that you fulfill your service obligations but also meet the physical requirements as well.
- Scholarships, bursaries, grants, and sponsorships: For many, the solution to tuition lies somewhere in a combination of these options. Personally, I am getting through medicine via a combination of family support, student loans, and line of credit. There were some minor contributions via work placements that helped along the way but the majority is through the former three.
- Stipends: Once the academic years are over, the learning environment shifts to the hospital. You learn on the job, and as a result there are policies in place to pay you for your work to some measure in the form of stipends. This is a universal benefit that students begin to see going through the latter years of medical school.
Are you a medical student or a student in a health care profession? How are you paying for your schooling? Do you know of a different option of paying for medical tuition that is not on this list? Leave your answer below.
EDIT: A number of readers have commented that scholarships and the like are also excellent means of financial relief. I had forgotten to include that and I thank everyone for pointing it out.