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International Students

International students have special hurdles to consider in paying for tuition and living expenses while attending health profession schools. An applicant who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is not eligible for federal low-interest loans. In addition, many health profession schools require accepted applicants to establish an escrow account, which is a third-party account that holds all four years of tuition. Learn more on the Explore the Health Professions page.

Costs of Applying

Applying to a health program is expensive. Expect to pay for:

  • entrance examinations
  • standardized test preparation books, classes or tutors
  • online letter dossiers such as Interfolio
  • resources about programs (such as the MSAR)
  • centralized application fees 
  • secondary application fees
  • travel, accommodation and professional attire for interviews (can vary significantly)

Reflect on your learning style. What do you need to optimize your preparation? A helpful rule of thumb is that lower cost options (i.e. self-study, group study, online self-scheduled lectures) generally require you to provide all study structure and discipline, while more costly options (i.e. in-person or online scheduled courses, tutors) tend to offer external study structures and additional resources. Similarly, online courses are often less costly, while in-person courses can provide helpful motivation from a teacher and peers.

Attire: Smith's Lazarus Center for Career Development has a "Suit Yourself" program, which allows current Smith students to rent attire for interviews.
Travel: Smith Aid Society Funding for Interview Travel

Helpful Tips
  • Group interview dates to minimize airfare. If you are offered an interview in a region where you have multiple applications, it is acceptable to contact adjacent schools to let them know you will be in the area.
  • Stay with friends, family or acquaintances when you travel. Some schools also offer the option of staying with a current medical student.
  • Public transportation is considerably cheaper than taxis or shuttles

You will save money during the application process if you avoid applying to programs that do not make sense for you in the long term. If you are not sure which schools to choose, discuss your choices with your prehealth adviser.

Fee Assistance Programs

Centralized application services often partner with health profession schools to waive fees associated with the application process. These programs have strict income level eligibility requirements. Health profession programs may also offer independent fee waivers.

Costs of Attending

Most students do not work while attending professional school, making the time potentially financially difficult. There are many ways to reduce your cost of living. The Board of Prehealth Advisers does not endorse a specific strategy for saving money but encourages health profession students to plan carefully and budget wisely.

Anticipated Costs

Expect to spend money on tuition, textbooks and certification examinations.

Additional Costs

Additional costs include groceries, housing, utilities and transportation. Some programs will have additional costs to apply and interview for a residency position.

Tuition Programs

Some programs will allow you to forgo or pay back tuition costs, but with stringent conditions. These programs should be researched thoroughly before you decide to commit to the application process.

Determining Funding Needs

Seek financial aid information from the schools where you apply. Understanding the average debt of a graduating student, funding availability for research, average student loan per year, and the average award of loans and scholarships will allow you to plan accordingly. Most students will take out significant loans to fund their professional education. Research the costs of school ahead of time and take reputable loans that have favorable interest rates, repayment plans, processing fees and deferment options.


If you default on credit card or other payments you will jeopardize your eligibility for loan programs, and some schools may not allow you to matriculate.