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Understanding the Cost of Medical School

Before you begin applying to universities, it is essential to think about the practicalities of studying medicine and how much it will cost. This blog post will provide prospective medical students with a breakdown of the costs associated with studying. If navigating the complexities of applying to medicine and financial considerations is something you need help with, we can support you through Future Doc’s 1 ON 1 mentoring programme; click here.

Section 1: Tuition Fees

For UK Students

  • English students studying in the UK pay £9,250 per year in tuition fees.
  • Scottish students in Scotland receive free education but pay £9,250 if studying in the rest of the UK.
  • Welsh students studying in Wales pay £9,000, or £9,250 in the rest of the UK.
  • Students from Northern Ireland pay £4,395 in Northern Ireland or £9,250 in the rest of the UK.
  • Students from the Republic of Ireland will receive free education in the Republic of Ireland, or £9,250 in Scotland and England, £9,000 in Wales, and £4,395 in Northern Ireland.
  • Private medical schools in the UK charge more than £9,250, for example, the University of Buckingham charges £40,000 per year.

Tuition fees vary massively if you're an international student, ranging from £20,000 to £50,000 annually. International students pay much higher fees than home students, as the UK government subsidises medical education for home students, whilst international students must pay for the total cost.

Section 2: Tuition Fee Loans

UK Undergraduate Students

As an undergraduate student on either the 5- or 6-year course, you can apply for a government loan through Student Finance England (SFE); they will cover your tuition fees for the first four years. After this, you will receive an NHS bursary that pays your tuition fee for your fifth and, if applicable, sixth year. In addition, for these final 1-2 years, you will receive a means-tested bursary between £1000 and £2,643 to help with living expenses. As this is a bursary, you do not have to pay it back.

UK Graduate Students

Graduate students can apply to the standard 5-year undergraduate course or an accelerated 4-year Graduate Entry Medicine program.

If you chose the 5-year course, unfortunately, student finance will not cover your tuition fees, and you must fund them yourself. Additionally, you will only receive the means-tested bursary to help with living expenses from your 5th year.

However, if you enter the graduate-entry course, you will receive a partial tuition fee loan:

  • Year 1: For a tuition fee of £9,250, you will be responsible for paying the first £3,465 to the University. If eligible, SFE will loan you the remaining £5,785.
  • Years 2-4: You can apply to NHS bursaries to pay the first £3,715 to the University and then to SFE to loan you the remaining £5,535.
  • On top of this, you will receive the NHS bursary and partial tuition cover from your 2nd year. You do not have to pay back the NHS bursary.

International Students

International students will not be eligible for a tuition fee loan from SFE; however, you may be able to get a loan from a private company instead. International students also are not eligible for the NHS bursary.

Section 3: Living Expenses

  • Rent and bills: Rent is typically the most significant expense for students. According to the Save the Student's Money Survey, students spend, on average, £418 per month; however, this varies massively based on location and accommodation type. On top of that, bills, including electricity, heating and water, add up to around £40-60 per month.
  • Groceries: In the UK, students spend around £100-£150 per month on groceries on average, but again, this varies based on your eating habits.
  • Travel: From going home for the holidays to travelling to and from placement. Travel expenses can add up, with the average cost of public transport for UK students at around £30-60 per month.

Hidden costs associated with studying that you may overlook:

  • Clothing: you need smart clothing for clinical settings
  • Stethoscopes: essential tools for doctors
  • Extra travel: between placements
  • Textbooks: owning some essential books can be beneficial for your studies
  • Subscriptions to medical websites, such as for practice questions or revision materials

Section 4: Maintenance loans

As a UK student, you are entitled to a maintenance loan to cover your living costs, such as rent, food, books, and travel. This means-tested loan varies based on your location, household income and where you study.

In the April after you've graduated, you will begin to pay back your student loan. It is worth noting that you only repay 9% of what you earn over £27,295 a year, or £2,274 a month. For example, if you earn £32,295, you repay 9% of the £5,000 that is over the threshold, which is £450 a year. Any outstanding balance after 30 years is written off.

Another thing to consider is that you gain interest on the money you borrow. As of September 2023, the interest rates are 7.3%. However, this does not affect how much you pay each year but how long you pay the loan off.

Section 5: Scholarships, grants, and bursaries

The first place to look for medicine-specific funds is the University you plan to study at. Some medical schools offer scholarships or grants for medical students, so it's worth checking these out and finding out when the application deadline is. Additionally, some private companies will offer grants and scholarships.


As you begin your journey to medical school, there are some significant financial decisions you have to consider. In this blogpost, we've outlined some of the main costs associated with medical school, from tuition to living expenses and other hidden costs. While the costs may be daunting, there are student loans to help you cover tuition fees and your living expenses. If you are still struggling for funding, there are plenty of grants, bursarys and scholarships that you may be eligible for, so make sure to research these. In addition, it is essential to remember investing in medical school will pay dividends to your professional development and the well-being of the people you serve.

For all things related to medical school and your application, you can find Future Docs other blog posts here.

Written by Ellie Millard.