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Choosing to become a doctor is no easy path. Medical school is long, hard, and expensive. The median cost of a medical degree at public schools is nearly $260,000, and private schools can cost even more.

As a result, the average med school student graduates with $200,000 worth of student loan debt, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Of course, if you make it through your board exam and residency, you’ve got solid job prospects to help you pay down all that debt. In fact, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts that the demand for physicians will grow faster than the supply of new doctors by 2033 — though this year, applications to medical schools have soared.

Still, taking on the financial burden of medical school isn’t something you should do blindly. Here’s what to know about medical school costs and student debt.

How Much Medical School Costs

Most graduate programs are expensive, but medical school ranks among the priciest. Training a doctor doesn’t come cheap, says Julie Fresne, senior director for student financial and career advising services at the AAMC.

“Medical training requires a great deal of resources that are high tech,” says Fresne. "Medical schools need affiliation agreements with local hospitals, so medical students can get job training. Schools need to be able to provide a learning environment that includes a tremendous amount of lab requirements involving cadavers and other expensive equipment,” she adds.

Besides that, medical students also need a special type of health insurance coverage that’s pricier because it protects them against liabilities. These factors combined are what makes medical school’s sticker price so high.