So, here’s a shocker; higher education in the United States is expensive. Add undergraduate and graduate degrees and you are looking at a mortgage on a house, maybe a Lamborghini. Why stop there, 40 international vacations, perhaps a boat or two, maybe a private jet, maybe campaign finance to run for president in 2020 #2020vision is my campaign slogan. My point is; getting educated in the United States is very expensive. PA school is ultra expensive. The reason being that your return on investment (ROI) will be high, thus justifying high price tags. When you look at other common degrees that have high ROIs, aka Law School, Business School, Medical School, your price tags will be through the roof because you are expected to earn well after you graduate. This does not justify high price tags, but that’s for a different conversation. For now, let’s talk about how to systematically approach finances for PA school.
This is a topic not many speak about as money is quite a taboo in our culture. Now, some of us are very lucky to come from affluent families, but most of us will have to tackle this hurdle ourselves. So, I think this is something that needs to be spoken about openly so everyone benefits from each others opinions.
Average PA school today costs $84,942. The most expensive PA school currently being USC Keck at $ 171,836. This is insanity. When I graduated, I went to the 2nd most expensive school in the country with the tuition ringing in at $106,000 (whelp, I still cry a little). When you account into books, supplies, additional training (ACLS, BLS, PALS, CPR, Infection training etc.), the education alone costs approximately $93,481 . Living costs differ significantly based on where your campus is located, whether you’re in San Francisco or rural Mississippi (cheapest state). But for simplicity’s sake if you take $1000 for rent/ month, food expenses of $400/month, and an additional $200/month for other bare basics, you’re essentially at $136,681. This hasn’t even accounted for entertainment costs and traveling back home during breaks!
We’re not done. Now add your undergraduate loans to this massive heap of money and you are basically Walter White with his stack of cash in the storage unit, with one subtle difference in that you have to pay it all back.
Although the education and training I received was spectacular, in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t attended the school due to its tuition. In my opinion, all PA schools are more or less the same and I’ll tell you why. Because the PA profession is relatively new, its programs haven’t had enough time to branch out from its foundations, thus most PA programs being the same and offering the same quality of education. It’s a different scenario when you look at medical school or law schools, professions that have existed for hundreds of years. Because of this, programs differ in their structure, their philosophy and of course, their reputations. 50 years down the line, when our profession turn 100, I am certain one PA school will be viewed more valuable than the other. But, for now, I do not think that it matters whether you go to Duke vs. USC vs. PACE vs. Baylor. My point being, go to the cheapest school you’re admitted to. Obviously look at other factors such as board passing rates (very important), professors, clinical sites, proximity to home, but if it comes down to 2 or 3 schools that are very similar, choose the cheaper one.
I work in a department where I have 30 PAs as my coworkers (yes, it’s a very busy service!), all of whom who have attended various PA schools, but at the end of the day, we are here at the same junction doing the same work with similar quality earning similar salaries. The only difference is that we chose to go to different programs with different tuitions. In simpler terms, if you were able to produce 10 cookies no matter how much cookie dough you use, would you use less dough or more dough?
What do you think? Comment below.
In the next blog post, we will discuss how to tackle this tuition and all the strategies to reduce the loan burden. To stay updated, enter your email address below! You will get all the FREE admission strategies, tips, freebies, and update for every single blog post! Enter your email below.