To Apply In-State or Out-of-State?

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Based on your comments to a recent AAMC Premed Team Twitter Poll, one of the most important factors when choosing a medical school is location, specifically, whether the school is in-state or out-of-state. Location is certainly a valuable consideration, but before ruling out medical schools based on location alone, we suggest checking out some of the most common myths about applying in-state vs out-of-state.

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The AAMC Premed Team recently conducted a few Twitter polls to ask premeds what they are looking for in a medical school. We received hundreds of responses, and while a school’s mission statement and scholarship opportunities were both noted as important influences, the results pointed to one factor above all others: location!

In our poll, 48% of students who voted said that location mattered the most when choosing a medical school. That made us want to dig deeper, so we asked what about location mattered most. Is it distance from your home town? Whether the medical school is located in an urban, rural, or suburban community? We were a little surprised to see another obvious winner. Students are most concerned about whether a medical school is in-state or out-of-state.

AAMC Twitter Poll
AAMC Pre-Med (@AAMCPreMed)
You said location was an important factor in choosing a med school. What matters most?  
44% In-state or out-of-state    
28%  Urban, rural, or suburban
15% Student housing options
13% Distance from hometown
169 votes-Final results

There are a lot of myths that may deter you from considering an out-of-state school, but they’re not all true for every applicant. For example, you may hear that out-of-state schools are harder to get into or are more expensive than in-state schools. Nationally, 61% of 2016 matriculants attended schools in their home state, and 39% chose an out-of-state medical school.

  • More expensive? While it's true that some public schools have higher tuition for out-of-state students, many private medical schools cost the same for in-state and out-of-state students. Plus, some private institutions are able to provide significant scholarship aid to qualifying students, which means you could graduate with less education debt than if you had attended a public medical school in your home state. You can view tuition, fees, and financial aid information for each school in the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR).
  • Harder to get into? It’s true that many public schools admit a certain percentage of in-state residents each year because the school receives state government financial support. However, if you are interested in working in a particular geographic area or if you connect with a school’s mission, especially related to the needs of a particular patient population, you may be a good fit for that school, even if it’s in another state.
  • Don’t accept out-of-state students? Some state schools do not accept out-of-state students, but others admit a certain percentage of out-of-state students each year. Some schools have agreements with neighboring states to grant nearby students in-state status. Check out the Matriculation Data for First Year Class in the MSAR to see how many out-of-state students applied, interviewed, and matriculated compared to in-state students at the schools you are considering.

Location is certainly a valuable consideration, but when choosing where to apply, don’t immediately rule out a school based on location alone. In addition to exploring a school’s website and MSAR profile, in-person and virtual events are a great way to learn more. In fact, on February 15, 2018, the AAMC is hosting its 3rd annual Virtual Medical School Fair. This is a free opportunity to chat with medical schools from all over the country and learn about their mission, admission requirements, and more. As you consider both in-state and out-of-state schools, this worksheet can help you weigh different factors.

Register for the virtual fair.

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