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17 statistics about medical school student debt

The average medical school student graduated with a median debt of $180,000 in 2014, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges' "2014 Medical Student Education: Debt, Costs, and Loan Repayment Fact Card."

Medical school student debt statistics

1. Total education debt for students graduating from MD-granting schools in 2014:

  • $100,000 or more — 79 percent 
  • $200,000 or more — 43 percent
  • $300,000 or more — 10 percent

2. Median tuition and fees for 2014 to 2015:

  • Public — $34,540 
  • Private — $53,714

3. Median cost of attendance for one year, 2014 to 2015 (including tuition, fees and living expenses):

  • Public — $56,779
  • Private — $76,376

4. Median cost of attendance for four years for the class of 2015:

  • Public — $226,447
  • Private — $298,538

5. Median cost of attendance for fours years in 2000:

  • Public — 100,215
  • Private — $161,760

6. Mean expected debt for first-year students starting DO-granting schools for the year 2014-2105, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine's "2014-2015 Academic Year Entering Student Survey Summary Report:"

  • All Schools — $166,152 in education loans
  • Public — $144,932
  • Private — $170,524

7. The median amount of medical school debt increased at a 6.3 percent compound annual growth rate from 1992 to 2012.

  • Median education debt in 1992 — $50,000
  • Median education debt in 2012 — $170,000

8. It is more likely for medical students attending public schools to incur debt. However, if private medical school students incur debt, the level of debt tends to be greater than public medical school debt levels.

9. Gender does not significantly affect medical student debt amounts.

10. On average, 62 percent of all 2012 graduates reported using scholarships to fund their education. The majority of medical students will not receive full-ride scholarships.

11. The Association of American Medical Colleges found no correlation between specialty choice and potential debt. While costs may factor into some students' decisions, about 98 percent of students ranked "personality fit" as the number one indicator of specialty choice. Only 27 percent ranked education debt as a "strong or moderate" influence.

12. U.S. News & World Report ranked the following as the top five MD or DO degree-granting schools where students incurred the highest average debt. 

  1. Western University of Health Sciences (Pomona, Calif.) — $239,680 
  2. West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (Lewisburg, W.Va.) —$236,931
  3. University of New England (Biddeford, Maine) —$236,444
  4. Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) — $224,685
  5. Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) — $224,000

Resident debt statistics

13. The average resident salary is $55,300, according to Medscape's "Residents Salary & Debt Report 2014."

14. Residents' medical school debt:

  • More than $200,000 — 36 percent 
  • $100,000 to $200,000 — 22 percent 
  • $50,000 to $100,000 — 6 percent 
  • Less than $50,000 — 7 percent 
  • No debt — 25 percent

15. Residents do not experience much fluctuation in their debt levels post-medical school during their residency periods.

16. Location factors into resident debt, with the following U.S. geographic areas ranked by residents with the most debt to the least debt.

  • Southwest — Highest debt
  • North Central 
  • Great Lakes
  • Northwest
  • Southeast 
  • South Central, West, Mid-Atlantic & Northeast — Lowest debt

17. Some choose forbearance during their residencies, which postpones the loan payment period. The Association of American Medical Colleges mapped out loan repayment using a sample repayment of $180,000 in federal direct loans. If a resident were to pursue forbearance during residency, their repayment years may add up to three years during residency and 10 years post-residency. This would accrue an interest of $148,000, totaling the repayment at $328,000.

If the path involves forbearance during a three-year residency with an extended pay period of 25 years post-residency, the total repayment could total $483,000.

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