AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. February 2001, Volume 3, Number 2.

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The Long Shadow of Educational Debt

Trivia about escalating medical school costs.

  • between 1981 and 1999, average medical school tuition and fees increased 418% at public schools (from $2,761/year to $11, 375/year) and 320% at private schools (from $8,962/year to $28,733/year)?
  • medical school tuition accounted for an average of 2.8% of the total revenue of public medical schools and 5.1% of the revenue of private schools in 1997-1998? This percentage has remained relatively constant for public schools and reached a peak of 8.2% during the late 1970s for private schools.
  • corrected to 1985 constant dollars, the average debt among the 83% of medical graduates with educational debt increased 99% between 1985 and 2000? (Public school graduates' debt increased 99% and private school graduates' debt increased 102%.) The average debt per medical student who graduated with debt in 2000 was $93,000 (about $80,000 for graduates of public medical schools and $115,000 for graduates of private schools).
  • the power of compounding is something that we should all be aware of. For example, if you invested $100.00 each month starting at the age 25 (assuming an annual return of 10%) then by the time you retire at age 65, you will have 1 million dollars in your portfolio. But if you wait just ten years to begin investing, your portfolio at retirement will be less than $400,000.
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