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The Additional Financial Expenses of Being a Medical Student

Applying to medical school was expensive enough, and tuition - forget it! You should know that once you are a medical student more costs accumulate. Throughout medical school you will realize that there are unanticipated costs that come up—some of them greater than others. Hopefully this compiled list written by Briana Christophers (with input from medical students on Twitter) will help you make informed decisions and plan ahead!

For Entering Students

If you are starting medical school in a new city then you will likely need to plan ahead for costs associated with moving: renting a moving vehicle or shipping your items, purchasing boxes, finding furniture or other living essentials. If you are looking to save money, you may be able to purchase some of these items from the graduating class depending on when you move. Some schools also require you to purchase medical equipment within your first few weeks (e.g. stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, tuning forks, reflex hammer), so make sure to check your email or chat with older students to see if this is the case.

Academic Preparation

You will likely use some alternate resources as you study during medical school and prepare for the United States Medical Licensing Exams (USMLE) Step exams. By the time you graduate you will have to complete Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS. The timing of the exams varies by school (e.g. some students take Step 1 before starting clerkships, others after) so make sure to check your curriculum.

Common resources used to prepare for the exam include

First Aid for the USMLE: book that presents information in an ‘outline’ style for review.

Step 1: cost $49. Each year a new edition is released in January. You also get a copy included in the cost of the membership for the American Medical Association (cost: $68 for 4-year membership)

Step 2 CK: $41.05

Step 2 CS: $47.22

Pathoma Fundamentals of Pathology: book and online video series (cost: $84.95-119.95 depending on length of subscription)

Boards and Beyond: online video series and question bank (cost: $19-249 depending on length of subscription)

SketchyMedical: online video series that includes SketchyPharm (cost: $159.99), SketchyMicro (cost: $159.99), and SketchyPath (cost: $199.99). All three products cost $369.99

UWorld: question bank and self assessments available for Step 1 (cost: $249-749), Step 2 CK (cost: $349-749), Step 2 CS (cost: $50-70), and Step 3 (cost: $399-549)

Find out if your institution typically organizes a group discount rate for any of these products; students can also inquire about group discounts for their class.


The licensing exams themselves also have a variety of costs associated with them:

USMLE Step 1: $645 registration

USMLE Step 2 CK: $645 registration

USMLE Step 2 CS: $1300 registration

USMLE Step 3: $895 registration

COMLEX-USA Level 1: $660 registration

COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE: $660 registration

COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE: $1295 registration

COMLEX-USA Level 3: $875 registration

There are additional fees if you decide to change your testing date. Note that some of the exams are only offered in testing sites in certain cities so if it is not offered in your area you will need to travel and potentially find somewhere to stay.

Professional Affiliations

Some students will pay membership dues to certain professional organizations or societies to tap into networks and participate in events. These include organizations such as the American Medical Association (cost: $68 for 4-year membership), the American Physician Scientists Association (cost: $125 for 8-year membership), American Medical Students Association (cost: $75 for membership lasting full length of medical education). You may also consider joining your regional medical association, specialty-specific organizations, or Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society.


Throughout your time as a medical student you may decide to participate in conferences as an attendee or presenter. Make sure to budget for travel, hotel/accommodations, conference registration, food and other incidentals. Inquire at your institution about where you might be able to apply for conference funding, perhaps through the Dean’s office, student government, or specific clinical departments. Some conferences also have conference travel funding available for students but you will need to apply for this well in advance.

Living Expenses

Besides the obvious living expenses (i.e. rent, food, and transportation) there are other costs associated with your existence as a student and a human being:

Parking at school if you live in an area where you have to drive.

Business or business casual clothes for when you are in clinical settings

Dry cleaning for the above clothes and your white coat.

Transportation to away sites, which could vary in distance depending on the clinical sites associated with your institution.

Therapy, psychiatry and other health costs because you need to stay healthy too!

Summer Expenses

Your summer expenses will be dependent on how you decide to spend the summer so be sure to think about that when building your budget. Some people choose to do research at their home institution or elsewhere, so you may need to include rent, travel and other living expenses in your plan.


When applying for residency you will need to be prepared to not only apply via ERAS (cost: $99 for first 10 applications, $15 each for application 11-20, $19 each for applications 11-30, $26 each for applications 31+) but also travel for interviews. Depending on the specialty that you are interested in pursuing, you might also consider doing away rotations at other institutions, so be ready for increasing your living expenses (travel, housing, food) because you will likely need to keep your rent at home going. After graduation you may find yourself relocating to another part of the country so once again you will have moving expenses.

Have additions? Feel free to comment below or send me a message on Twitter (@BriChristophers)!

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