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Determining Family Income Level

D

deleted1044860

Hi all, I am filling out my AMCAS application and am confused by the "Family Income Level" question. First of all, I am a little apprehensive about why AMCAS is asking the question. I skimmed some old threads where it sounds like med schools recognize that matriculants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds do not tend to succeed in med school at the same rates as their peers from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Consequently, I am a little worried that adcoms might (even just implicitly) perceive me as being a "riskier" candidate because of my relatively lower family income level.

The reason that I am making this post, however, is that I am uncertain about how to accurately answer the question. My family received government assistance, and I do not know if I should include the amount we received in government assistance as part of our income. For example, if one year my parents earned $25,000 from working and also received $5,000 in federal assistance, is my family income level for that year $25k or $30k?

I also do not know if I should only count my parents' income toward our family income level, or if I should also include my own earnings from when I worked as a teen. I am thinking that maybe I should not include my own earnings, since the question asks about the income level during the "majority of your life from birth to age 18," and I was not working for the majority of that time, but I am still not sure.

If anyone can please help me understand what what exactly "family income level" encompasses, I would appreciate it!

Thank you in advance to anyone who can help me!
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
15+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
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Give a ball park figure... an honest estimate based on your parents tax returns over those 18 years, (if they filed).

In some cases, schools will consider this as a characteristic that adds diversity to the class given that many students are growing up in households wiht two professional incomes (two physicians, two lawyers, etc) and students from a different socioeconomic stratum brings a different point of view to the discussion.
 
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D

deleted1044860

Hi @LizzyM, thank you for your response!

I just had my mom get out all the tax returns for those 18 years (I am thankful she is so organized!). Based on your advice, I guess I will average my parents' income listed on the tax returns over those 18 years and not include the amount they received in government assistance (since it was untaxed/not listed on the returns). Does this sound right to you?

Just to confirm, as a faculty member, when you see the listed range of income that an applicant selects as their "family income level," do you consider this range to include only salary/wages and not any income from government assistance? Since amcas will say that my family received government assistance, I do not want someone reading my app to look at the listed family income and think it is too low for a family that benefited from government help, if "family income level" is supposed to include the income from the government in addition to salary/wages.

Sorry if my question is pedantic, I just want to make sure I am correctly answering the amcas question. Thank you again!
 
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LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
15+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
25,699
44,106
326
  1. Academic Administration
It is so unusual to see an applicant that received government assistance, at least at my school, that we wouldn't be doing any fancy math in our heads and trying to figure out how a family survived on $20,000 /year and still paid rent, food, insurance and not taking into account help in the form of a housing voucher, school meals, food stamps and Medicare. Frankly, I see far more applicants with family incomes above $200,000 than below $40,000.

No one can fault you for listing taxable income averaged over your years as a minor child. Go with it. AMCAS provides little guidance and most schools just use this as a ballpark to get a picture of your socioeconomic status in childhood.
 
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