post-bacc money question please

Hi, I’m new here and wanted first to say what a wonderful place this is! I’ve been reading a lot and lurking a lot, and gotta say, this has been one of the friendliest, most helpful places on the internet! (And I’ve been around…)

As for myself, after too many years of wrestling, I’m now pushing 30, I finally decided to take the plunge into medicine because I’ve wanted to be a doctor for such a long time! I was a history major, so have zero prereqs and will need to enroll in a post-bacc program. I’m in the Southern California area, so will be looking around here.

But I wanted to please ask a question. How have you guys financed your post-bacc? Post-baccs at some private schools could run up to $30K once it’s all said and done, not including living expenses, etc. I’m currently single and have no other debts, really, except for car payments, so that’s the good news. But I won’t have a F/T job once I hopefully get into a post-bacc program and go to school F/T instead. Also unforutnatley I don’t have much of a savings to go on.

The choices seem to be:

  1. Private loans. But would I have to pay them back before starting med school (assuming I get in after a post-bacc program somewhere)? Because I don’t think I could pay back $30K in-between a post-bacc and med school. Although I really don’t know how this works so hopefully this is not true.

  2. Gov’t loans (federal or state). I would take out gov’t loans, but I don’t think I qualify for gov’t loans anymore, since I borrowed money for my undergrad degree already, do I?

  3. School scholarships. I don’t think I’d qualify for any of those, because I’m not a minority, or in a lower socioeconomic status, or anything else. And I probably don’t have much merit to go on!

    If anyone has any thoughts about how to finance a post-bacc, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks again!

Here are a couple bookmarks from my browser that I found helpful when I was doing some financial aid research:

Federal Student Aid eligibility

There are probably some state resources to be found where you live as well. There are also scholarships available through schools that aren’t always necessarily need based.

I would probably start by looking first for the best post-bacc program I could find that is relatively convenient to my location, and then contact their financial aid office. Some can be really helpful locating funding, others not so much.

I’m financing the current phase of my academic adventure out of my own pocket, so I’m not so “in the loop” on financial aid as I had once been.

Others here may offer some other suggestions. :wink:

Good luck!

First, keep in mind that there are all kinds of ways to do the post-bacc game. One is a formal post-bacc program.

Another is a “do-it-yourself” post-bacc, and there are multiple ways to do that. You can enroll as a regular, degree seeking undergrad (even though you probably have no intents of finishing the degree) or as a non-degree student (sometimes called continuing education). There are pros and cons to both. Financial aid is one (see later). A big determining factor may (and should be) how to enroll so that you will be able to register for the classes you need (which tend to be in heavy demand). Different schools do it different ways. At some schools, non-degree students register right after graduating seniors. At other schools, they are the last eligible to register (which is bad, bad, bad in terms of trying to schedule pre-reqs).

[quote=patrick1. Private loans. But would I have to pay them back before starting med school (assuming I get in after a post-bacc program somewhere)? Because I don’t think I could pay back $30K in-between a post-bacc and med school. Although I really don’t know how this works so hopefully this is not true.

Private loans are indeed one option. Assuming you borrow them through an education loan program, they should work similar to government loans (i.e. extended repayment, deferment while in school, etc). So, although you might have to make payments on those loans between post-bacc completion and starting med schools, you shouldn't have to pay the whole amount.

  • Quote:
2. Gov't loans (federal or state). I would take out gov't loans, but I don't think I qualify for gov't loans anymore, since I borrowed money for my undergrad degree already, do I?

Actually, yes, you do. If you enroll as a regular undergraduate student, you are eligible for more government loans. I'm not sure what the restrictions are - I know there are some total $$ limits as well as limits to the number of hours/quarters/semesters you can receive loans for.

If you enroll in a formal post-bacc or as a non-degree student, you are eligible for 12 consecutive months of federal financial aid as long as you are taking courses that are required for admission into a professional program. This is probably why most post-bacc programs condense everything into one calendar year.

  • Quote:
3. School scholarships. I don't think I'd qualify for any of those, because I'm not a minority, or in a lower socioeconomic status, or anything else. And I probably don't have much merit to go on!

Probably not, but you might qualify for some if you enroll as a regular undergrad.

So - there are multiple options out there. I had one friend choose the private loan route, another choose the undergrad route and I went the non-degree student route. If you visit the financial aid office at a local school, they should be able to give you some idea of how much you will be able to borrow in federal loans. It might even be on a website somewhere.

Hope that gives you somewhere to start. Good luck.


I would recommend that you find a post-bac curriculum that suits both your financial and academic needs. I initially was going to attend Columbia University’s post-bac program because I was under the illusion that it would be a “better” program. But upon speaking with the admissions people, I realized that a more economical option was to take courses as a non-degree student at City College, which has a strong science curriculum for 1/5th of the cost! I figured I’ll have my entire life to accumulate debt…

With that said, there are options for federal and private aid. Some schools offer private aid, and as a post-bac student you are eligible for $5000 of subsidized and $5500 unsubsidized government loans.

Keep in mind that, although physicians do not get paid ultra-glamorous salaries nowadays, with some creative budgeting you can definitely pay back your debt in time. Education loans are the cheapest debt that you will likely acquire, and it is “good debt” in that it is taken on in order to progress your life in a positive way.

Be smart, but don’t be myopic – your post-bac year is an INVESTMENT, not a liability. Explore your state residency options – in-state is considerably cheaper than out of state.

Best of luck!

These are really awesome replies! Really helpful, I’m goonna have to print these out and make notes on them. (Not to mention really fast too!) Thanks so much everyone.

Another sorta related question I was thinking about, although maybe it’s coming more out of my current enthusiasm than seriously thinking it through, do you think it might be worth moving out of state for a post-bacc?

California state schools are cheaper but also are pretty crowded. Science/premed classes seem especially impacted. So even regular studnets have trouble getting classes from what I remember (I went to a state school here). But I’ll have to find out if a non-degree student gets to register last or not (thanks Amy, that was a good suggestion, too).

So unless I attend a private school or if I attend a formal post-bacc program at a state school (which I think the only one I know of is up in LA but I live in Orange County, about a 2 hr commute without traffic, each way), I might have trouble getting classes.

Plus it might save on rent, depending on where I move to.

Looking at the big picture, this might also help for med school admissions, maybe? Since at least from what I understand, California schools seem impossible to get into.

And I’ve always wanted to move to the Midwest for some reason, maybe Illinois.

Any thoughts on going out-of-state for a post-bacc, because it seems like it might save some money?

Thanks so much again!

I know there are at least a couple of formal post-bacc programs in California, but I’m not sure where.

Moving to another, cheaper state MIGHT be worth it. Ohio has very reasonable cost of living expenses and a relatively large number of medical schools (seven) for the number of residents applying. We get lots of Cali people applying to the Ohio schools. Out of state tuition is ridiculous though. If you are serious about moving to another state, though, thoroughly investigate what it takes to become a resident. If you move to another state and immediately start taking post-bacc classes, you will have to pay out-of-state tuition, may have to apply as an out-of-state student and pay out-of-state tuition to medical school. Gaining residency is easier in some state than in others. It might be worthwhile to establish state residency before enrolling to take post-bacc classes.

Hooray midwest! Chicago is awesome! And we have a lot of colleges here, some with formal post-baccs, most with the a la carte option. But I would think that the costs of moving, finding a new job, etc, might not make up for the move.

If you’re going to move anyway, take post-baccs into account… But I’m not sure about moving just for the post-bacc, when you might have to move again for medschool. and moving = $$$!

i don’t know, it might be right for you though. I’m borrowing money to finance my postbacc, and holy crap is it expensive. i’m going to northwestern and it’s about $6500 per year per class… for a grand total of… actually, i don’t want to think about it…

Okay, now I feel compelled to give a shout for my alma mater, Purdue.

West Lafayette is a pretty nice little city by itself, but Chicago is only a 2 hour ride, and Indy is about an hour away. Purdue doesn’t have a Post Baccalaureate Pre-med program. In fact, they really don’t even have a pre-med program per se. It does have one of the best (if best means rigorous & challenging) schools of life science in the midewest (maybe even the country). Purdue is a state school, so it is pretty cheap (about $10K/sememster last I checked) relative to many other schools in the country. The cost of living is around the lowest you’ll find anywhere. I used to budget about $3500-$4K each semester for rent/food/gas while I was going to school there (and lived like a king compared to my current standards). There are more research opportunities in labs across the campus than you would care to count as well as lots of great opportunites for community service and volunteerism. The vet school is world-class (they were doing cutting-edge paralysis research with dogs).

Indiana University has the state’s only medical school (which takes a substantial portion of their enrollment from in-state applicants). One of their dirty little secrets is that Purdue actually teaches some of the first and second year medical school classes for IU. IU has the prettier campus and tends to be a little more liberal (a little less square due to fewer engineers per capita?). I think they’re a little more expensive than Purdue, but I’m not certain about that. The cost of living is pretty near the same as far I could ever tell, though.

If you’ve lived in Cali all your life, and you check out the midwest (especially Indiana), you’ll be in for quite a jolt. The cost difference is enormous, but so is the cultural difference. :wink:


There’s a great postbac directory on the AAMC website. It lets you search every program in the country that has an identifiable program.