American Needs a Medical School Application Loan Program
For more than a year, a large part of my time has been spent applying to medical schools. I have dedicated much energy to prepare for and take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), obtain multiple letters of recommendation from my professors, interview for a health professions committee letter of recommendation from my university, complete and submit the applications, and interview at various medical schools. Although this process proved to be a positive experience, the extraordinary cost of applying to medical schools poses a danger of limiting individuals with limited financial resources. Moreover, the lack of scholarship or loan programs to assist students with the application process further contributes to this danger.
One of the first hurdles of applying to medical school is the MCAT. Although many students prepare for this exam on their own, a large portion of students choose to take preparatory classes offered by various private test preparation companies. These courses, which often cost in excess of $1000, teach students not only the basic concepts covered on the MCAT, but also helpful test-taking techniques unique to the MCAT. Thus, these preparatory classes may provide students with helpful advice and knowledge unavailable to those who cannot afford the classes. I attribute much of my success on the MCAT to these helpful hints; furthermore, many of my fellow pre-medical colleagues, who were unable to take the preparatory classes because of financial constraints, scored poorly on the exam. Hence, I believe MCAT preparation courses significantly increase one's probability of performing well on the MCAT, and, since these courses are out of reach for many pre-medical students from lower to moderate income families, a financially limiting situation exists.
In addition to preparatory classes, the actual application costs to medical schools represent another financial hindrance. Under current application procedures, a student must initiate the process by submitting one application to a centralized application service known as the American Medical Colleges Application Service (AMCAS). In the application, the student indicates the medical schools to which he or she wishes to apply, provides academic and personal information, writes a one-page statement of purpose, and submits a fee of $55.00 for the first medical school with a sliding fee scale for the remaining medical schools. Since most pre-medical advisors recommend students apply to ten or more medical schools, the expense of this initial application usually costs in excess of $400. Furthermore, most medical schools send out secondary applications, which require submission of an additional fee in the range of $25 to $100 directly to the medical school. Thus, a student applying to ten medical schools may spend nearly $1000 in application fees. Although a fee waiver or reduction...