Medical school financing: What are your options?

05 July 2024 by National Bank
Illustration of a graduation cap with a stethoscope

It’s a fact that studying medicine is more expensive than most other disciplines. Which is why it helps to prepare for it with careful financial planning. Here are a few tips to help you balance your studies and your budget without stress.

How much does medical school cost?

The cost of attendance for medical school depends on a number of factors, including the specialization you choose and the province in which you study. 

In Canada, university fees range from $4,000 to $30,000 per year. Quebec has the lowest tuition fees in the country, averaging between $4,000 and $6,000 for residents of the province. If you’re a resident of another province, you’ll need to budget around $12,000 per year – slightly more if you live in Ontario. 

The cost of exams

In addition to tuition fees, you also need to pay for the examinations required to complete your training. Expect to pay a few thousand dollars for exams such as:

  • The Medical Council of Canada’s qualifying examination ($2,000 to $4,000). 
  • Specialty exam(s) such as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada exam. These costs depend on your specialization and generally exceed $2,000.

Good news: all these fees are eligible for the tuition tax credit.

How can you finance your medical school education?

Several options are available to help you pay for medical school. 

Government scholarships and loans

If you’re eligible, scholarships should be your first choice for financing your medical school education. These are awarded according to various criteria, such as your income or academic record.  

Canada Student Grants and Loans, for example, are designed to help students pursue post-secondary education in any field and take individual financial needs into account. All provinces, territories and most universities also offer scholarships, some for medical school specifically. Find out if you’re eligible for one – or more – of them.

Scholarships alone aren’t enough to cover all your medical school fees. That’s why government loans, if you qualify, can help too. Most provincial and federal student loans are granted to people pursuing full-time post-secondary studies.

Lines of credit

Studying medicine also means a heavy course load, leaving you with little time to hold down a student job. Borrowing money to cover your studies and living expenses could be a solution. 

A personal line of credit is one of the most common options. It’s practical and gives you access to funds as and when you need them. Unlike a loan, interest is only charged on the amount you use. In other words, if you have a $50,000 line of credit but only use $36,000 of that amount, interest is charged on the $36,000. 

Most financial institutions offer lines of credit for students, and some allow you to defer repayment of the principal and interest for up to 12 months after graduation. Your level and field of study can influence the amount you qualify for. Medical school studies usually entitle you to an attractive credit limit.

Discover our offer for healthcare students

To learn about funding for your studies, see our article on financing options.

How can you manage your medical school debt responsibly?

Do you have to use credit to finance your studies? If so, use that money wisely and be sure to plan ahead. Remember: debt should never be taken lightly, even if it’s for a good cause like education.

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Once you’ve completed your studies, set up a repayment plan based on your new income. The most recommended strategy is to start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate, then work through the rest in descending order. Find out more in our article on debt repayment.

Loan insurance

Because unforeseen circumstances can affect your ability to repay your loan, consider taking out loan and line of credit insurance to help you manage difficult situations. This type of insurance covers your loan payments in the event of disability, critical illness or death. 

Read our article to find out more about the different types of insurance available to you. 

How can you save for medical school?

Even though medical school is expensive and may require you to go into debt, it’s still possible to save. This is especially true during your residency years (when you’re earning a salary).    

Start by setting up a savings plan for your projects. You can also set up a systematic savings plan by making automatic payments into a savings account.

Wondering what type of account to choose? Here are some tips to help you find the account best suited to your goals and needs:

Medical school requires a significant investment of time, effort and money – but it’s well worth it. Both your career and the healthcare community will reap the benefits. 

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Need help financing your medical school education? Talk to your National Bank advisor. Don’t have a specialist in charge of your file? Make an appointment now.

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