Medical school is an expensive investment especially in the United States as well as the top Caribbean medical schools, and like all schools, tuition is subject to change every year. This is definitely true at AUC where tuition increases every September. When I started Basic Sciences in 2009, the tuition was as follows:
- Semesters 1-5: $16,000/semester –> $16,000 x 5 = $80,000
- Semesters 6-9: $17700/semester –> $17,700 x 4 = $70,800
- Semester 9.5: $8850
- Total: $80,000 + $70,800 + $8850 = $150,650
By 2013 when I graduated, the tuition was:
- Semesters 1-5: $18,975/semester –> $18,975 x 5 = $94,875
- Semesters 6-9: $21,250/semester –> $21,250 x 4 = $85,000
- Semester 9.5: $10,625
- Total: $94,875 + $85,000 + $10,625 = $190,500
That’s quite a lot of money and that is just for tuition alone. If you add living expenses to the equation, the cost becomes significantly more. I did not have this much money in the bank, and since I’ve never invested in anything big like a house before, I did not have much to show for my credit. Luckily, AUC is one of the four offshore medical schools in the Caribbean that the US government has approved to offer US federal student loans, and so I was able to borrow everything I needed to live and study comfortably with these loans. US federal loans is great in that the government lets you borrow up to the full cost of attendance for medical school. But because doctors are expected to make high income in the future, our interest rates are also really high, ranging from 6.55% to 8.25%, depending on the type of federal loan you borrow.
Calculating how much I would be borrowing, and then knowing that I would have to pay back all this money in full after I graduate was stressful. How would I ever pay back this debt if I fail out of medical school? Knowing the costs of my education made me extra motivated to do well and not fail in becoming a doctor.
By the time I graduated, I had borrowed $276,877.79 from a mix of Stafford Loans and Grad PLUS Loans (two types of US federal loans that the government offers). However, because of capitalized accrued interest, this became $316,602.64 by the time I actually started repaying back my loans. According to AUC, in 2011, the average AUC graduate borrows $102,500 from Stafford Loans and $212,350 from Grad PLUS Loans, giving an average total loan of $314,850. If this is the amount before accrued interest is factored in, then I guess I’ve done pretty well in saving some money. Now, it’s payback time.
For those of you going to the island, how much should you expect from living expenses? Here are some links to help you: