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.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!
|1.04% – 11.98%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|1.13% – 11.23%*,2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|3.84% – 9.40%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.05% – 11.44%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.22% – 11.66%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|2.76% – 7.14%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.24% – 11.99%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers. |
1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
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.
Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
Information advertised valid as of 4/22/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Lowest advertised rates require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. If you choose to complete an application, we will conduct a hard credit pull, which may affect your credit score. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 11.26% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.22% to 11.66% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 11.37% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.73% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.30% to 11.52% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.29% to 11.89% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.60% to 10.76% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.22% to 11.16% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)..
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.76% – 7.14% (2.76% – 7.14% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 3.01% – 7.50% (3.01% – 7.50% APR).
Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.19% – 6.73% (2.19% – 6.73% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.89% – 7.09% (2.89%-7.09% APR).
Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.36% – 9.54% (1.36% – 8.82% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.13% – 9.84% (4.13% – 9.12% APR).
Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.36% – 8.34% (1.36% – 8.04% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.03% – 8.64% (4.03% – 8.34% APR).
Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.10% – 7.41% (2.10%-7.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.69% – 7.83% (4.69% – 7.83% APR).
Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.45% – 9.60% (4.45% – 9.53% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.38% – 12.81% APR).
Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.55% – 7.05% (3.55% – 6.77% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.97% – 10.07% APR).
Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of March 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.11%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.
Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7 Important Disclosures for Discover.
Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.