Although being a doctor can be a rewarding profession, the cost of medical school can be a huge barrier for aspiring students. That’s why many future physicians turn to student loans to cover the cost of their education.
Unfortunately, this can also lead to massive student debt – around $164,800 on average, according to a 2017 Student Loan Hero study.
While six-figure debt might be the norm for medical students, if you apply to affordable medical schools, it can make a big difference in limiting your student loan debt. And that gives you a huge head start in repaying medical school debt.
To help medical school applicants find the least expensive medical schools, we surveyed 110 medical schools to find out where students are likely to incur the least amount of student debt.
Here are our top 20.
How affordable medical schools limit your student loan debt
To identify the best medical schools for limiting student debt, Student Loan Hero looked at three factors: annual tuition costs, average indebtedness at graduation, and the percentage of borrowers receiving gift aid such as scholarships and grants.These are central considerations for any student figuring out how to pay for medical school.
Overall, medical students can expect the following when it comes to paying for their doctorate:
- Annual tuition (in-state): $39,116
- Average medical school debt: $164,776
- Students receiving gift aid: 52%
However, students attending one of the top 20 affordable medical schools fare better:
- Annual tuition (in-state): $24,483
- Average medical school debt: $122,545
- Students receiving gift aid: 71%
They pay approximately $14,600 less in medical school tuition each year and are much more likely to receive college-sponsored grants or scholarships. They also owe about 25% less ($42,231) at graduation than an average med student.
On the other end of the spectrum, students at the 20 least affordable medical schools fare much worse:
- Annual tuition: $48,843
- Average medical school debt: $224,566
- Students receiving gift aid: 30%
Students here receive scholarships and grants less than half as often students attending the 20 best medical schools.
Plus, average student loan debt tips the scales at $224,566. That’s about $59,800 more in medical school debt than the total average — not to mention, about $102,000 more than the average among the 20 best medical schools.
When your choice in medical school can equate to an extra $100,000 in medical school debt, the weight of your decision is clear. Medical school costs and student debt are central factors in the equation of whether medical school is even worth it.
To point you in the right direction, we’ve highlighted 20 medical schools where it’s easiest to minimize student debt.
Top 20 affordable medical schools in the U.S.
1. East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $18,159 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $112,692
- Students receiving gift aid: 80%
The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, is one of just 10 medical schools surveyed where annual tuition falls under $20,000. Four in five students receive a scholarship or grant, and on average, graduate with about $52,100 less in medical school debt.
2. University of New Mexico School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $15,798 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $126,783
- Students receiving gift aid: 87%
The University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has low tuition, with an even higher rate of institutional aid. With these factors keeping costs low, it’s no surprise these graduates can limit student debt to about $38,000 less than the average.
3. Baylor College of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $19,650 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $99,882
- Students receiving gift aid: 60%
Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, has the third-lowest average student loan balances among the top 20. And it’s one of just three medical schools where the average graduate leaves with under $100,000 in student debt.
4. Texas A&M College of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $13,790 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $128,797
- Students receiving gift aid: 78%
Texas A&M College of Medicine has the second-lowest tuition of any medical school on this list.
These low costs, along high rates of institutional aid, means it’s relatively easy for graduates to minimize their medical school debt here.
5. Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $49,900
- Average medical school debt: $69,695
- Students receiving gift aid: 9%
The Mayo Clinic School of Medicine is a renowned medical school that matches its reputation with low student debt. Despite having the highest tuition rates of any of the top 20 medical schools, Mayo Clinic’s scholarships and grants significantly offset these costs.
In fact, Mayo Clinic graduates have the lowest levels of any medical school debt in this survey, owing about $95,100 less than the study’s average.
6. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $15,016 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $129,454
- Students receiving gift aid: 72%
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine has the fourth-lowest tuition of any medical school surveyed. This adds up to about $35,300 less medical school debt at graduation, on average.
7. University of Central Florida College of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $25,491 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $138,728
- Students receiving gift aid: 100%
The University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando, Florida, takes the top spot for institutional aid, with 100% of students receiving a scholarship or grant. Add this to already-low tuition, and students can easily avoid getting too deep into medical school debt.
8. David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA)
- Annual tuition: $32,757 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $117,590
- Students receiving gift aid: 91%
The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has the third-highest rate of institutional aid among these top 20 medical schools (tied with the Mayo Clinic).
These scholarships and grants help alumni of this school avoid around $47,200 in medical school debt, on average.
9. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
- Annual tuition: $18,493 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $109,350
- Students receiving gift aid: 52%
Only about half of students at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, receive a scholarship or grant. But with medical tuition starting low, graduates still borrow close to $55,500 less than the average medical school debt found in our study.
10. University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
- Annual tuition: $14,500 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $120,529
- Students receiving gift aid: 55%
This medical school has the third-lowest tuition in this study, saving students around $24,600 a year. These low costs and above-average institutional aid put the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, among the most affordable medical schools.
11. University of North Texas Health Science Center
- Annual tuition: $13,078 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $150,258
- Students receiving gift aid: 75%
Students at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas have higher student loan balances among the top 20 most affordable medical schools. They save just around $14,500 on average compared to overall borrowing patterns.
However, this is the most affordable medical school in terms of tuition. Combine low tuition with higher rates of institutional aid, and you have a smart choice when it comes to minimizing student loan debt.
12. University of California – San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $32,346 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $98,750
- Students receiving gift aid: 61%
Graduates of the UCSD School of Medicine enter residency with the second-lowest levels of medical school debt, less than $100,000 on average. This is despite having one of the highest tuition costs of the top 20 affordable medical schools.
13. University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $26,114 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $135,788
- Students receiving gift aid: 84%
University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine graduates have one of the higher average student loan balances among the top 20.
However, they still fall just about $29,000 below the average amount of debt. This school also offers low tuition and plenty of financial aid opportunities.
14. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $24,837 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $147,899
- Students receiving gift aid: 87%
Thanks to high rates of institutional aid and tuition that’s about $14,300 less a year than our study’s average, students at UNC School of Medicine have fewer costs to account for than the average medical student.
That means they ultimately have less to pay for and can take out a smaller amount of student loans, minimizing their overall debt.
15. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
- Annual tuition: $15,525 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $117,381
- Students receiving gift aid: 30%
The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas, has the lowest rate of institutional aid of any school in the top 20. In fact, it’s more on par with the averages for the bottom 20.
Despite this, having the fifth-lowest tuition costs helps make up the difference at UTHealth. Medical school debt here is also about $47,400 below the overall average found in our study.
16. University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $26,778 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $108,690
- Students receiving gift aid: 44%
The UAB School of Medicine has low tuition and graduates leave with low medical school debt – approximately $56,100 less than the average debt found in our study.
Keep in mind that a first-year medical resident’s typical salary stipend is $54,100, according to a 2016 AAMC survey of resident and fellow stipends. So even if this medical school offers aid to fewer students than most, going to UAB medical school can help graduates save on debt that’s almost the equivalent of a year’s worth of salary.
17. University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $24,030 (in-state)
- Average medical school debt: $121,668
- Students receiving gift aid: 49%
The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine has below-average tuition, saving students around $15,000 a year. Graduates of this school also save about $43,100 on total medical school debt.
18. University of California—San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $33,420
- Average medical school debt: $139,457
- Students receiving gift aid: 82%
About four in five medical students at the UCSF School of Medicine get institutional aid to help cover costs. This probably helps them borrow about $25,300 less than an average medical student, despite paying tuition that’s closer to average.
19. University of California – Davis School of Medicine
- Annual tuition: $35,933
- Average medical school debt: $153,419
- Students receiving gift aid: 95%
Almost every UC Davis School of Medicine student receives a scholarship or grant. This helps cover most students’ medical school costs and keep tuition affordable. Although tuition may seem higher compared to the other 20 most affordable medical schools, it’s still below our study’s average.
These factors also help UC Davis graduates keep their medical student loans $11,400 below the average.
20. University of Michigan Medical School
- Annual tuition: $34,050
- Average medical school debt: $124,091
- Students receiving gift aid: 56%p
Rounding out our top 20 is the University of Michigan Medical School. This school gets closer to average on both its tuition and rates of institutional aid.
However, a typical University of Michigan student graduates with medical school debt that’s 25%lower than the $164,800 average.
Top 50 most affordable medical schools
Curious to see how other affordable medical schools stack up?
Here’s a list of the top 50 institutions we found to be the best options for minimizing six-figure medical school debt, based on our methodology listed below. See how your school compares in terms of average indebtedness each med school graduate walks away with.
|Medical school||Average indebtedness|
|1.||East Carolina University (Brody)||$112,692|
|2.||University of New Mexico||$126,783|
|3.||Baylor College of Medicine||$99,882|
|4.||Texas A&M Health Science Center||$128,797|
|5.||Mayo Clinic School of Medicine||$69,695|
|6.||Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center||$129,454|
|7.||University of Central Florida||$138,728|
|8.||University of California—Los Angeles (Geffen)||$117,590|
|9.||University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center||$109,350|
|10.||University of Texas Health Science Center—San Antonio||$120,529|
|11.||University of North Texas Health Science Center||$150,258|
|12.||University of California—San Diego||$98,750|
|13.||University of Nevada Reno||$135,788|
|14.||University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill||$147,899|
|15.||University of Texas Health Science Center—Houston||$117,381|
|16.||University of Alabama—Birmingham||$108,690|
|17.||University of Oklahoma||$121,668|
|18.||University of California—San Francisco||$139,457|
|19.||University of California—Davis||$153,418|
|20.||University of Michigan—Ann Arbor||$124,091|
|21.||University of Chicago (Pritzker)||$119,830|
|22.||Washington University in St. Louis||$84,758|
|23.||University of Kansas Medical Center||$155,241|
|24.||University of South Dakota (Sanford)||$160,439|
|25.||University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences||$163,049|
|26.||University of Florida||$150,126|
|27.||University of Missouri||$153,398|
|28.||University of Virginia||$125,094|
|29.||Ohio State University||$168,656|
|31.||University of Washington||$153,494|
|32.||University of Iowa (Carver)||$146,207|
|33.||University of Maryland||$157,155|
|34.||Wayne State University||$160,859|
|36.||University of Hawaii—Manoa (Burns)||$160,000|
|37.||University of Connecticut||$148,575|
|38.||Johns Hopkins University||$113,684|
|40.||West Virginia University||$154,798|
|42.||University of South Florida||$148,306|
|43.||Florida State University||$150,008|
|44.||University of Wisconsin—Madison||$144,334|
|46.||Marshall University (Edwards)||$190,345|
|47.||University of California—Irvine||$159,161|
|48.||University of Massachusetts—Worcester||$138,479|
|49.||University of Nebraska Medical Center||$162,638|
|50.||University of Utah||$166,985|
Methodology: Student Loan Hero ranked 110 medical schools in the U.S. for this study. Rankings were determined by three factors:
1) Level of indebtedness for medical school graduates
2) Annual in-state tuition to attend the medical school full-time
3) Percentage of students receiving institutional aid in the form of scholarships or grants.
All data was sourced from the U.S. News & World Report rankings of the Best Medical Schools.
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College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
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PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
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A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
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