How am I going to afford this?

So, the wife and I have been looking more seriously at the costs for med school, what loans and other things may look like, and it’s not looking too good. We’re both starting to worry that school might not be affordable without us living in a van down by the river.

What I’ve found out so far (and please correct me if I’m wrong) is that:

  1. You can only take out loans up to the cost of attendance as calculated by the school (this would include public and private loans).

  2. There’s not much adjustment from the calculated cost of attendance with the exception of child care, which can add a little bit to the loan package.

    Our situation is that we’re married with a ~2 year old daughter and another child on the way here in a few months. My wife works right now, but she’d like to be home with the kiddos while I’m in med school. She gave up staying at home with our daughter to help put me through my post-bacc work, and would really like to be home with the next one.

    Looking at the school I’m planning on attending, the cost of attendance there is about $50,000/yr, including about $20,000/yr for living expenses. It’s pretty obvious that we couldn’t survive on 20k a year for a family of 4 (it would likely cover rent + utilities for suitable housing in our area, but that’s about it). We’d need some other income to cover childcare (if my wife works), food, gas, health insurance (that’s a big one) or whatever else.

    I guess we might qualify for Medicaid, TANF and WIC if that’s really our only source of income. But I really struggle with being on welfare for something that’s ultimately elective.

    So, for those of you in similar situations, how are you planning on handling this while you’re in school (or how are you handling things now)? Are there any other sources of funding available to help with living expenses while in school?

From what I’ve heard, there are some who get offered scholarships during their first and possibly subsequent years. I know when I was in nursing school, I was offered two scholarships, both were enough to cover almost an entire year. Albeit it was a state school here in Texas, it was still mighty expensive (for that time anyway).

You never know!!

BTW: where are you looking at attending? I’m pretty much D.O. bound (due to my dreadful physics class). I’m looking at AT Still, LECOM in Erie and Touro in Vegas and Ca.


I have met a guy at a school I interviewed at in Texas. 3 kids, and a wife who didn’t work. The school worked with him so that he ultimately got a package that covered everything. Although he was borrowing to the max, he was living modestly and had to scribe on the side to make ends meet. But his wife being home, all he had to do is study and work (and by being a scribe, you also somehow work on school stuff).

I also have two kids, one will be going to day care. We figured we need about 104K/year to pay for everything between commute, food, kids, home and so one. My wife will bring about 55 to 60. The reamaining will fall within the cost of attendance of the school I am attending (Texas is cheaper).

You kind of hit the nail on the head here. I was hoping to apply to Harvard, Yale, Hopkins and so on, but the cost was not bearable. I am not unhappy with my top choice, it is a good school. But for sure, money has been a factor.

Now I am very lucky in a way because all of my pre-reqs were done for less than 5K between community college, CLEPs and so on. So I already saved a bunch of money from this standpoint and have no student debt. I am starting clean which is good because there are caps with the government. I think the max you can borrow total is something like 238K. Anything more, and you must get private loans, which I will do my best not to.

I am also considering (just considering), working 6 to 10h/week, on Saturdays, teaching which is not very hard and would bring in around 1K/month or so.

Finally, I will be able to commute for 50 bucks a year (that’s right 50 a year), so I will not have much transportation expenses.

So as you see, I have looked at everything to make this doable. It is, but choices will be hard. To recapitulate.

  1. My wife will work and that will help greatly

  2. I will work on week-ends if I can, but won’t if I cannot

  3. Commute savings

  4. I am paying down all my credit card debt right now to start with no debt (other than my mortgage)

  5. We are living on a tight budget right now, fixing what needs to be fixed and upgrading what need to be upgraded. Extra money if any will be saved.

    Aside from all of this, there is also the possibility of getting scholarships and grants. However you won’t know this until you get accepted and for some, until you have matched, so it is a bet. I would not count on it, but know it is a possibility.



I did some of my clinical rotations at Children’s there by UT Southwestern. I always wanted to work in Parkland’s ER (I’m an ER nurse).

Q: I remember reading you interviewed at Texas Tech HSC…do you know off hand what reasonable GPA they’ll (and UT Houston) accept? I know you did real well; I think I’m about a 3.4 cGPA, working on the sciences now. I may be able to pull off a B in physics 1. I’m an analytical thinker, which may be a hinderance with physics (algebra-based). I also have an instructor that’s preoccupied with their PhD rather than teaching .

Curious what your thoughts are on that cGPA and the Texas schools?

Hey Leuschner

First and foremost, make sure to apply to all TX schools. You never know what they really look for. Second, I can give my opinion, but it is just mine and it is not worth much, so take it with a grain of salt.

My experience has shown, that some schools are really stat heavy, and generally these have been the one where I have interviewed: UTSW, UTMB, Baylor. Note that Baylor is the only private school (so they don’t need to get 90% of TX resident), and I believe they have the highest step 1 score average in the country (this year 244), at least based on their own numbers. I didn’t go to Baylor interview because I had matched at UTSW already.

These 3 schools tend to look at numbers a little more.

The schools that I didn’t interview at UT Houston, Texas A&M, UT San Antonio and Foster-El Paso, as well as TCOM (the only DO school), tend to look less at numbers and be a bit more forgiving.

I left out Texas Tech Lubboch, because they are in between in my opinion. I interviewed there, and it was my second choice. I think they are trying to attract academically fit students, but the location is a big bummer for many. I thought it would have been perfect for me and my family, but the cost of relocation, and my wife loosing her job were not an option.

I think that if you can get your cGPA up a notch (3.5-3.6) and maintain a science as high as you possibly can (3.6+), provided that you score a 30+ MCAT, your chances would be good to get into Lubbock (or any Texas schools). The classification I would offer (and again, this may differ from student to student) would be along those lines:

Reach schools (usually high numbers) :UTSW, Baylor, UTMB, UTH

School a bit more forgiving (high MCAT though): UTH, Texas Tech, UT San Antonio

School that are even more forgiving: Forster El Paso, Texas A&M, TCOM

For UTH, I would kind of put in the first two categories, it is really hard to understand how all these schools work, but UTH is even harder to figure out (a bit like UT San Antonio).

So I am not sure that helps. But I met a guy, before I applied who landed 4 interviews in TX (like me, not same schools though). He had a 3.4 GPA and 33 MCAT. He matriculated at UT San Antonio. I would bet that he interviewed at Texas Tech Lubbock.

So your cGPA is not a death sentence. Of course, it would be harder to get into some schools in TX, particularly UTSW and Baylor (and yet not impossible). All depends on your MCAT and what else your application offers. So at this point, I’d say you have all your chances provided that you make the good choices, and keep doing the best job possible.

Good luck. If you have any other questions, please let me know. And again, this is an opinion, and not facts at all. Just the way I see it.

BTW, the biggest challenge to face is being out of state because by law all these schools take 90% Texans (except Baylor). So an out of stater would have to be very competitive, with very good numbers to have a shot, because they do not have priority.

  • redo-it-all Said:

I left out Texas Tech Lubboch, because they are in between in my opinion. I interviewed there, and it was my second choice. I think they are trying to attract academically fit students, but the location is a big bummer for many.

Thanks for the "skinny"!! I was once told Tech used to be the "easy" school all the kids would go to until a few years back, they almost lost their funding. I can say they've taken a step the other way. This also may be why they're looking for the academically fitter students rather than great people like me

I think I'm going to write a jaw-dropping personal statement, work on getting a 30+ MCAT, continue with my premeds and see how that goes. As a fellow Texan, I think I should at least get an invite to one school. If I don't, I'm off to D.O., possibly LECOM and maybe Liberty's new one.

BTW: The location is a huge bummer!! Blowing dirt, wind and nothing else around.

Just an FYI on Baylor based on my experience being over 40:

Baylor = ageism.

  • pathdr2b Said:
Just an FYI on Baylor based on my experience being over 40:

Baylor = ageism.

That sucks.

Oh well...I guess I'd have to get a facelift and dye my hair if I EVER got an invite...and of course, text and check my facebook while the interviewer talked to me.

Just want to bring up two different scholarship programs, although I realize they are not right for everyone. Still, they are a wonderful way to have med school funded if the programs fit your needs. The first is the National Health Service Corps for those who want to go into a primary care field. I did two blog posts on the NHSC and loan repayment/forgiveness programs; you might find those posts helpful and there are links to the programs there, as well. The NHSC offers both scholarship and loan repayment options. The other scholarship program to consider–and I recognize this is not of interest to some–is the Health Professions Scholarship Program offered by the Navy and the Army .

There are also merit scholarships for medical school but they are rare; those who receive merit awards have top numbers and experiences. For more info on those feel free to send me a private message or email me directly.

I hope this helps; I know the cost of med school is daunting.



Thanks for the responses folks. I’m actually not terribly concerned with the cost of tuition in and of itself. I know that I can cover the tuition with loans, if I have to.

What I’m more concerned with is how to keep food on the table for my family while I’m in med school. I know that I can take out some money in loans to cover living expenses, but I also know that the amount available won’t care for a family of 4. If my wife goes to work (which she doesn’t really want to do), then we have to get childcare for the kiddos which would eat up 60-70% of her salary. Also on the table is how to cover the cost of healthcare for the family.

My wife and I are talking over a number of options. But in essence, we’re trying to figure out how to come up with an additional $20-30k a year to ensure that we can eat and pay the bills during school.

I’d welcome any other advice with regards to how folks are handling or planning to handle those kinds of living expenses while they’re in school.

Thanks again.

How about your wife offering daycare for others?

Can she tutor? I went to a tutor that cost $20/hr.

How about getting her Real Estate License and selling on her schedule?

Some thoughts while I study physics…

I have an interview coming out this week with the Director of Student Financial Planning from my old medical school - NYMC.

I asked him this specific question, because of my interest with the OPMers!

He did talk about how NYMC specifically, as I’m sure others can do, works with students in your same situation, so not every financial aid package (what you can borrow) is the same.

When it’s available (17 Apr) - you can hear the interview at or just go subscribe in iTunes - l-sc…

  • Doc Gray Said:
I have an interview coming out this week with the Director of Student Financial Planning from my old medical school - NYMC.

NYMC = GREAT for nontrad and URMs.

Just an FYI = the NYMC podcast went live today!

Find it at

Doc Gray, I just love what you do for this community

Thanks DocGray for keeping our community in mind.

Good info on the latest podcast, it sounds like some schools will help to make some accommodations for us non-trads, but it’s hard to find specifics.

I did actually go walk into the financial aid office (or the Campus-Wide Office of Student Financial Services) at the local med school last week to see what they had to say. I was not very impressed with the person they sat me down with, and she did not really give me any information beyond what I can already find on the web. I’m hoping that’s just because I got passed to the low-level desk jockey, and not because there’s nothing else to know.

I’ve got an email in to the director of the financial aid office over there, maybe that approach will be more fruitful.

While I may not be able to get all the answers that this community, and premeds in general are looking for, my hope is that with this interviews I am able to tease out enough information that you feel empowered to ask further questions, or you are given ideas of different questions to ask during the process.

It sounds like that is the case

Hi Bennard,

I saw your post about finances and since we share similar backgrounds (BS in Computer Engineer, MS in Industrial Engineering), I wanted to put in my 2 cents.

I also have a toddler (15 months) and another on the way (due in the Fall) so I share the same concerns that you have. I’ll be starting medical school in August so here’s the options I have been planning or throwing around in my head.

  1. Student Loan for tuition and some living expenses - My financial aid package consist of 2 loans (Federal Direct Grad Plus loans at 7.9% and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans at 6.8%) which total at $58k leaving $28k after tuition.

  2. Home Equity Loan - $30k HELOC at 5%

  3. Retirement accounts - I’m a bit hesitant to share this information but worst case we have enough to withdraw a minimum of $20k a year for four years

  4. Unsecured Personal Loan - You can take out an unsecured loan (like a credit card) but interest rates will be high.

  5. Reduce living expenses further - There’s a bus that I can take to school and I could also carpool with my wife.

  6. Borrow from parents - keeping as last resort

    Two kids in day care is a lot (around $24k a year) so my wife and I have discussed her working for 1-2 more years while I’m in medical school so we can reduce our reliance on loans and savings. If you don’t have savings that will carry some of the weight while you’re in medical school, I would spend this coming application year (after you take the MCATs) working and saving up money to help pay the interest while you’re in school. I believe this is what finance folks call debt service.

    Good luck and relax. You’re going to figure this out.

The wife and I had another conversation tonight about how the finances are going to work out if I get into med school. Still no answers and so many variables. Some days I feel great about things, but tonight not so much.

Tonight I’m thinking that I’m going to have to defer this thing for 3-4 more years till the kids are in school and we can build up more savings to get this done. Either that, or just give up on this thing entirely, and realize that the last year or so of my life has been a complete waste of time.

Anyhow, I went through and dug around the boards for some other threads about this kind of thing and figured I’d post the list here for others to see, in case they might help someone else.……………………

Personally, I’d suggest putting off med school until kids no longer need daycare and are in school all day.