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Top 10 Tuition-Free Medical Schools

You may have heard about tuition-free medical school and immediately thought, “that sounds way too good to be true.” But we assure you, it is a real thing that could be within your reach! In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ten tuition-free medical schools and what attending them really looks like! 

Common misconceptions  

For those who may be wondering about tuition-free medical school, let’s debunk a few myths first. If any of these resonate with you, that is entirely okay and understandable. Here are a few questions to get you started!

“Are tuition-free medical schools good quality?” 

Typically, if something is free, we wonder about the quality of that item. However, tuition-free medical schools are not free because they are poor quality. Tuition-free medical schools have a variety of reasons as to why they offer tuition coverage.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is that some schools are aiming to break down tuition barriers. These schools aim to have a more diverse healthcare field where people from all areas of life can be educated and provide care. In this case, you should have no concerns about receiving a subpar education through a tuition-free medical school. In fact, most tuition-free programs have very high academic standards.  

“It’s just too good to be true. What’s the catch?” 

It’s true that the idea of tuition-free medical school sounds crazy, but it is real! While some programs do require you to work at a certain place after school or complete specific residences, try not to view those things as “catches.” Rather, think of it as an opportunity to give back in the best of ways. 

The goal of free medical tuition is to help students, but also is designed to help certain populations. The areas you may be required to work will usually be with underrepresented populations or in medically underserved communities. But that is not a bad thing! Keep an open mind and remember that this isn’t true for all programs, just some.   

“It’s nearly impossible to get into these programs.” 

Getting into medicine in general is a long and laborious process. So yes, getting into a tuition-free medical school will probably require even more planning and effort. Again, don’t let this be something that deters you. If you want to do this, it is entirely possible. With that, let’s take a look at ten tuition-free medical schools that can help you become the doctor you want to be!

Related: Medical intern vs. resident: What’s the difference?

Top 10 tuition-free medical schools 

New York University (New York, New York) 

New York University Grossman School of Medicine offers full-tuition scholarships to all students regardless of merit or financial need. Students must remain in good academic standing during their time there to keep their scholarships. 

NYU is one of the few medical schools that is proud to offer a three year accelerated MD curriculum. The goal is to help students reduce costs and enter the medical field at a quicker pace.   

Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, Ohio) 

At the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine (CCLCM), all students receive full tuition scholarships and select funding for other expenses. Like NYU, the Cleveland Clinic knows the barriers money can create. They want students to have equal access to a top-tier medical education.  

CCLCM offers a distinct opportunity that most medical students do not receive. Instead of a four-year track, the Cleveland Clinic offers a five-year MD track program within Case Western Reserve University that allows students to graduate with their MD and a special qualification in biomedical research.  

Uniformed Services University (Bethesda, Maryland) 

At Uniformed Services University students have the chance to study medicine for zero cost. Students have the opportunity to commission as officers in one of four US military branches upon graduation.  

While taking medical courses, students will also take a select course of military courses that will prepare them for what it’s like to serve as a military doctor. Being accepted into the Uniformed Services University can be hard work, but it comes with high rewards! Check out their requirements to see if you are eligible to apply! 

Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri) 

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis offers first year students the chance to receive a full tuition scholarship for all four years of medical school. Students are automatically considered for these scholarships when they apply and are accepted into the school.  

In addition to full tuition scholarships, St. Louis has been consistently recognized as one of the least expensive cities to live in within the United States. With a lower cost of living and the opportunity to receive a full tuition scholarship, Washington University may be a great choice for you! 

Weill Cornell Medicine (New York, New York) 

At Weill Cornell Medicine, they offer a tuition-free program that is a little different than some of the other programs mentioned on this list. Cornell offers need-based tuition coverage. This means that students will receive funding from the school to cover whatever amount they cannot pay. Their goal is to have all students graduate debt-free. An example of how their funding works can be found on their website.  

UCLA (Los Angeles, California) 

UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine offers many opportunities for students to receive full tuition scholarships. Students who apply and are accepted are automatically considered for UCLA’s top three medical scholarships. These scholarships each cover various expenses.  

So, be sure to familiarize yourself with these programs before applying to UCLA.  

Columbia University (New York, New York) 

Columbia University offers students scholarships to cover one-hundred percent of proven financial need as part of their “Vagelos Scholarship Program.” Students must send proper FAFSA and CSS documentation to determine how much aid they will receive from the school.  

As of the 2019-20 school year, all families with a total income below $125,000 will be accessed as zero contribution from income. Students who submit financial aid documentation will automatically be considered for this scholarship program.    

Kaiser Permanente (Pasadena, California) 

Kaiser Permanente has a unique take on providing free tuition to students. From 2019-2024, they pledged to provide one hundred percent tuition coverage for their first five cohorts. All students who apply and are accepted during this time will not have to pay tuition for all four years of their MD education.  

Additionally, they have made large funds available via grants to help students pay for housing. Students must demonstrate financial need in order to qualify for housing grants, but not to qualify for tuition coverage.  

Also see: How to get into med school with a low GPA

The University of Bergen (Bergen, Norway) 

Going to medical school may have already seemed challenging enough, so moving to another country might initially feel like way too much to think about. However, studying medicine internationally is not an uncommon thing.  

At the University of Bergen, there are zero tuition fees for anyone. Students are responsible for paying for their housing and living expenses, but tuition won’t be a concern. You can read more about the University of Bergen medical program and their tuition and fees on their website.  

National Health Service Corps

The last opportunity on our list is not actually a school, but a scholarship. The National Health Service Corps offers you the chance to receive full tuition coverage to any accredited US medical school. In return for paying for your school, they require you to make a service commitment that is a minimum of two years in length. 

During these years, you will work with medically underserved and underrepresented populations. More details about what your service commitment might look like and additional expenses they may help you cover are available on their website. 

Related: How to attend medical school for free guide

Applying to tuition-free schools 

Most of the schools on this list are not strictly tuition-free across the board. Some of these schools provide scholarships to only some of their students, which means applying to these schools will be largely the same as applying to a medical school that you would plan to pay tuition for.  

Start the application process as early as possible 

Vigilance and planning far in advance will be your best friends through this process. Lots of students will be applying, so showing admissions that you are on top of the game by supplying all the necessary information will go a long way! 

Get your financial documents in order

Keep in mind that for schools who require proof of financial need to qualify for tuition coverage, you may be responsible for supplying extra documentation about your financial state. Give yourself plenty of time to secure the proper documents.  

See also: Top medical school scholarships

Present your best application

Having stellar GPA, MCAT, and overall application materials is the reality of the competitive nature of medical school. Take advantage of test-prep materials so that your test scores are your very best.  If your scores aren’t as competitive as you hoped after giving your all, that’s okay–you should still apply!  

See also: How to get into medical school with a low GPA

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • There are tuition free medical schools located across the United States and internationally
  • Tuition free medical school may seem too good to be true, but they do exist and can provide you a top tier medical education
  • Getting into medical school for free may mean you’ll need more competitive test scores and grades, but even if you don’t have a 4.0 and straight A’s, that shouldn’t mean you should not apply
  • No matter where you’re applying to medical school, it’s important to start the process early and be on top of your application 
Key Takeaways

Frequently asked questions about tuition-free medical school

What is the cheapest way to attend medical school?

Obviously, going to one of the schools we’ve mentioned above or a similar one would be the cheapest. Since the programs shared are so competitive, students should carefully research and plan. Where, when, and how you attend medical school will affect the amount you pay in tuition, living expenses, and more. There unfortunately is no one way to attend medical school that will be cheapest.  

The best thing you can do is diligent research. Before you become a medical student, your job is to study various schools, various ways to fund your education, and the many ways there are to attend medical school.

Are most medical students in debt?

Unfortunately, most students who graduate from higher education these days are in debt. Debt can be due to several factors. However, even for the students who work tirelessly to win scholarships and grants, the reality is that they might not be enough still. A medical education is expensive, and the cost is rising, but if it is something that you truly want, there will always be a way!  

How do I get into a tuition-free medical school?

Each tuition-free medical school has various requirements for eligibility. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking because a medical school is tuition-free, it must be ten times harder to get into.  Yes, these programs are competitive, but that usually comes from the need to start the application process sooner and be much more vigilant with application materials. If your scores are slightly lower than you’d like, apply anyway. Admissions officers will take note of your dedication to apply, and might give you a second look!

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