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I'm trying to figure out how to get enough money to apply to med school. Though I am a reapplicant in my "gap years" that lost out by applying too late, I'd like to focus on the costs of applying & reapplying.

Even with FAP covering app costs, I'm still missing:
  • Money for a used car to travel to the hospitals, school, and back. ($5k+)
  • All the deposits that come with moving. More if the school starts before the loan year requiring you to have money for months to survive. ($2k-$10k)
  • Interview and retesting costs. (Assume $5-7k)
  • Seat deposit. (Up to $2k)
  • Health insurance gap to avoid huge tax penalty. How does that work? ($0?)
So on the low end, I'd have to have $15k to even have a chance at this point. I can't afford that, its taken me two years to save $4.5k. I'm 27.

Note that I'm working full-time and am married. I make $11/hr, partner makes $9/hr. No family assistance at all from anyone, because my close family has passed and my partner's family's extra money goes to his unemployed sister that just gave birth. We make too much for govt help but we're stuck eating beans and rice almost every day.We can't afford to do anything fun or even eat normal food.

On another note, how can I get recommendation letters again if I've been out of school so long? Its been a year since I last contacted those that gave me letters and I heard they had to be recent. How can they be if I've been out of school so long and they don't remember me?

So my questions are:
  1. How in the world do people get money to cover everything to apply to medical school and move IF they don't have help from family or a rich partner?
  2. How can you know what to do about recommendation letters if you can't afford to do anything and don't know when you'll have enough money to reapply? I thought three letters had to be from professors.
 

Noomm

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Why can't you get a different job?
Yeah OP I would recommend getting a job that makes at least 100k/year so that you don't have to worry about these costs


On a serious note, though, I agree 100%. I honestly feel like interviews for medical school are pretty BS.

brb gas money/taxi fare/airfare
brb hotel costs
brb taking time off work
brb stressing out over a totally subjective evaluation of your likeability/attractiveness/sociability
 
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Noomm

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We make too much for govt help but we're stuck eating beans and rice almost every day.We can't afford to do anything fun or even eat normal food.
This makes me mad. It really does.
 
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Svelai
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Why can't you get a different job?
It took me months to get a job in the first place that wasn't fast food and/or part time. And I'd have to have a car to get a job, considering I walk to work now. Which is where I'm stuck since new cars cost 5k minimum and already have 150k+ miles on them. My partner has our only car, which does run but is beaten up from college kids causing accidents to it.

This makes me mad. It really does.
We have normal food every 4th to 5th day, I just watch out for bulk meat sales. It really wouldn't be as bad for a few years doing this if I didn't hear of people at work going on vacations, getting pets, buying stuff just because they want it, while I'm trying to get enough just to reapply. (I've talked a bit and found they have partners or families that make a lot of money and help them out.)
 

Noomm

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Dude honestly if I were you I would try to start a Kickstarter. This might sound crazy to you, but I think it could work. I think a lot of people would empathize with your situation. Plus, what's the worst that could happen? You might waste time making it, but you stand to gain more than lose in my estimation. Plus if it works that would be a cool thing to talk about during interviews, too. You could say that it bolstered your faith in humanity even more and that you really want to be a force for good in this world by helping the needy because you were there once yourself and people helped you out. Or if it fails, you could say the same even except that you want to be the force for good that you didn't have.

Make sure you have like a video or a photo or something too cause I don't think many people will want to donate to a faceless person. Try to advertise it too, obviously. I dunno where you would be able to do that but there's gotta be a subreddit on reddit.com that would be good for that.
 

tenblackalps

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To save a little bit of money, I suggest eating lentils if you like them. Lentils are extremely cheap and quite tasty in my opinion. They are also healthy! I have eaten a lot of them in college to get by.

Might you consider picking up a second job? Even if its 10 or 15 hours a week? You could pick up a used bike from a thrift store which will put a lot more jobs within your reach.
 

Pusheen

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i got a used car in Los Angeles with something like 100k miles for less than 2k. Hit up craiglist.

Also seconding the idea of another job. You can use all the proceeds from that job for med school apps only. It can be anything, evening shifts at Starbucks, retail, ect, as long as it has flexible hours and is easy to get hired
 
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Long Way to Go

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  • Money for a used car to travel to the hospitals, school, and back. ($5k+)
  • All the deposits that come with moving. More if the school starts before the loan year requiring you to have money for months to survive. ($2k-$10k)
  • Interview and retesting costs. (Assume $5-7k)
  • Seat deposit. (Up to $2k)
  • Health insurance gap to avoid huge tax penalty. How does that work? ($0?)
The interview process is expensive. But much of these costs could be a lot lower:
  • Why do you need a car? At a lot of schools you don't need to have a car until clinical rotations start.
  • Seat deposit is $100 per MD school that you get in to, and they are refundable (DO schools are that expensive though). Interview and retesting costs should be much lower.
  • Why would you need to spend more than $400-500 (cost of a cross-country plane ticket) per school; staying with a student host eliminates any need for a hotel
  • Retaking the MCAT is a couple hundred dollars. Don't spend money on an expensive course, buy the books and study yourself.
  • Health insurance you should have anyway. If you and your wife work 2000 hours/year each, you make $40,000 as a family. That puts you at 250% of the federal poverty line. Silver level plans on the ACA exchange are relatively inexpensive and at 250% of the FPL, you qualify for substantive cost sharing subsidies (http://kff.org/health-costs/issue-brief/cost-sharing-subsidies-in-federal-marketplace-plans/)
 

steelersfan1243

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Yeah OP I would recommend getting a job that makes at least 100k/year so that you don't have to worry about these costs


On a serious note, though, I agree 100%. I honestly feel like interviews for medical school are pretty BS.

brb gas money/taxi fare/airfare
brb hotel costs
brb taking time off work
brb stressing out over a totally subjective evaluation of your likeability/attractiveness/sociability
Spoken like someone who's never had to choose between eating food and paying the rent.
It took me months to get a job in the first place that wasn't fast food and/or part time. And I'd have to have a car to get a job, considering I walk to work now. Which is where I'm stuck since new cars cost 5k minimum and already have 150k+ miles on them. My partner has our only car, which does run but is beaten up from college kids causing accidents to it.


We have normal food every 4th to 5th day, I just watch out for bulk meat sales. It really wouldn't be as bad for a few years doing this if I didn't hear of people at work going on vacations, getting pets, buying stuff just because they want it, while I'm trying to get enough just to reapply. (I've talked a bit and found they have partners or families that make a lot of money and help them out.)
......oh the premeds of SDN


OP the reason I ask is because if you're already thinking about medical school interviews I imagine you have a bachelors, and with that a competitive GPA. How is it with this the best you can do is a job that pays $11 an hour? The economy is no where as bad as it once was, I think you are selling yourself short. What are your credentials, why is looking for a different job not a possibility? What is holding you back?
 
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Spector1

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This makes me mad. It really does.
Yeah med schools should really do more phone interviews like the real world does (at least for preliminary interviews). Not everyone can afford 5 cross country plane tickets to the middle of nowhere just to interview for the waitlist
 
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NotASerialKiller

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Yeah med schools should really do more phone interviews like the real world does (at least for preliminary interviews). Not everyone can afford 5 cross country plane tickets to the middle of nowhere just to interview for the waitlist
Or skype! You'd still have to wear a suit and tie, but obviously no pants. It'd be great if I could pull the international card for a Skype interview but I don't want to give them any more reasons to keep me out.
 
OP
Svelai
Sep 19, 2015
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Dude honestly if I were you I would try to start a Kickstarter.
I'd feel bad begging.

i got a used car in Los Angeles with something like 100k miles for less than 2k. Hit up craiglist.

Also seconding the idea of another job. You can use all the proceeds from that job for med school apps only. It can be anything, evening shifts at Starbucks, retail, ect, as long as it has flexible hours and is easy to get hired
Been checking Craigslist a bunch. Everything here is expensive, dealers holding the good Toyotas, etc. Or there are old cars like Jaguars or BMWs that are too expensive to repair.
I've looked into getting a second job, but all of them seem to be part-time retail or food that require your entire schedule to be open to get work. I also get occasional overtime ($16.50+/hr OT) which is why I haven't gone full force to try and get one.

The interview process is expensive. But much of these costs could be a lot lower:
  • Why do you need a car? At a lot of schools you don't need to have a car until clinical rotations start.
  • Seat deposit is $100 per MD school that you get in to, and they are refundable (DO schools are that expensive though). Interview and retesting costs should be much lower.
  • Why would you need to spend more than $400-500 (cost of a cross-country plane ticket) per school; staying with a student host eliminates any need for a hotel
  • Retaking the MCAT is a couple hundred dollars. Don't spend money on an expensive course, buy the books and study yourself.
  • Health insurance you should have anyway. If you and your wife work 2000 hours/year each, you make $40,000 as a family. That puts you at 250% of the federal poverty line. Silver level plans on the ACA exchange are relatively inexpensive and at 250% of the FPL, you qualify for substantive cost sharing subsidies (http://kff.org/health-costs/issue-brief/cost-sharing-subsidies-in-federal-marketplace-plans/)
  • One school I interviewed at said they wanted to get students in with patients the first week. I interviewed at Ohio State, Uni of Louisville, Meharry, and Boonshoft (Wright State Uni), so it was one of those. I didn't worry about a car until that was mentioned.
  • Is the $100 MD only? I've seen higher for DO: https://www.aacom.org/docs/default-source/cib/2016_acom.pdf (Random school as an example) There's one DO in my state and with family ties, I might be able to get in there. The one I'm looking at is a $1k deposit.
  • Hotel and gas. I've also had to pay secondary fees for some schools. And don't forget food, though I pack those $1 Velveeta cups and tuna. Note that I go with my husband because of the one-car deal, so no staying with a host anyway.
  • I already have some books, never taken a class. But I figure with the MCAT remake, I might need to rebuy them. I bought this current set before the official new test was open to the public.
  • Our health insurance and dental is $330/mo but its the high deductible one. And we both have massive dental work to "catch up on" which is costing $1k/yr to get done over multiple years. Also need a vision plan the most, employer doesn't offer it.
......oh the premeds of SDN


OP the reason I ask is because if you're already thinking about medical school interviews I imagine you have a bachelors, and with that a competitive GPA. How is it with this the best you can do is a job that pays $11 an hour? The economy is no where as bad as it once was, I think you are selling yourself short. What are your credentials, why is looking for a different job not a possibility? What is holding you back?
I've worked for a Molecular & Cell lab, but I was an inexperienced undergrad so I didn't learn too much. Western blots for days. No paper of any kind out of it so no "good" experience. Good with Excel and Office, know a second language, but those don't seem to help. BS in Bio but there are near no science jobs around here, except at a local university, and I was told by a graduate there that funding is sketchy in most labs. Bit scary for me as I have no outside safety net. And having no car for myself is holding me back the most. My husband has jumped 3-4 jobs in the past 2 years and none pay more than $9/hr with an education degree and years and years of experience. Its just dead here.


I think what I'm wondering is, if I just applied to the 3 or so state schools, would they even listen to my story? One school straight called me lazy for not having a job, in which that week was the week I had interviewed for the job I have now. I think the interviewer hadn't seen the financial part of my file and mistook me for some of the kids that can live off their parent's dime. I've seen that a lot in this state so I can't say I blame her. So telling them I live off beans and rice might just make them laugh. :/

Yeah med schools should really do more phone interviews like the real world does (at least for preliminary interviews). Not everyone can afford 5 cross country plane tickets to the middle of nowhere just to interview for the waitlist
If you have FAP, you should legally be allowed a Skype interview option. Have all of the lower income students have their info session all at once, then have them all wait their turn until an interviewer picks up the laptop they're on. Would be close to the real thing.
 

Noomm

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No paper of any kind out of it so no "good" experience.
That's not true at all! Just because you didn't have a paper doesn't mean you don't have relevant and valuable experience.
 
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GrapesofRath

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......oh the premeds of SDN


OP the reason I ask is because if you're already thinking about medical school interviews I imagine you have a bachelors, and with that a competitive GPA. How is it with this the best you can do is a job that pays $11 an hour? The economy is no where as bad as it once was, I think you are selling yourself short. What are your credentials, why is looking for a different job not a possibility? What is holding you back?
Well therein lies the problem with alot of pre-med majors. Bio, liberal arts, econ etc, a bachelor's degree alone provides very little job opportunities unless you can take on some sort of additional training, even if it is only several months to get some sort of education such as a certificate or class for say a technologist job. But the money for that isn't available for the OP at the moment. So yeah, it doesn't surprise me one bit a pre-med who has to go on the job market for a year can't find more than $11 an hour, even if the OP has very solid qualifications/has strong stats. These typical gap year jobs gap year pre-meds take such as nursing assistant, research assistant, scribe etc all pay that kind of rate, give or take a few dollars an hour.

For the OP, one potential job that can make more money and is somewhat flexible time wise and doesn't necessarily demand a ton for you is MCAT tutoring. I believe the cut off for Kaplan is a 33. If you qualify for that, there's another solid source of money potentially with hours that can sometimes be a bit more flexible than traditional jobs.

Also to the OP I'm not sure why re-obtaining rec letters would be an issue. One year since you had to contact them for letters is not that long of a time period.
 
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StudyLater

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i got a used car in Los Angeles with something like 100k miles for less than 2k. Hit up craiglist.
Exactly. Quite easy to accomplish, and very easy to wack down price. 100-120k for 2-3k is doable on an A-->B type vehicle. Grab a 2BR (not sure if partner is coming with?) for $8-900/mo, assuming you don't take the med school in highly desirable/urban wherever.

I'd feel bad begging.
So you'd starve for the sake of your own vanity.

You'll probably get in.

Been checking Craigslist a bunch. Everything here is expensive, dealers holding the good Toyotas, etc. Or there are old cars like Jaguars or BMWs that are too expensive to repair.
civic/neon/corrolla/elantra 5-10+yrs old.

I've looked into getting a second job, but all of them seem to be part-time retail or food that require your entire schedule to be open to get work. I also get occasional overtime ($16.50+/hr OT) which is why I haven't gone full force to try and get one.
Go be a pharm tech. Step 1: Read test prep material for like 30 mins and score a 50% on the exam. Step 2: Proceed to obtain $13+/hr job with flexible hours at local pharmacy.

Also look into ER tech. Probably a similar type deal.

I've worked for a Molecular & Cell lab, but I was an inexperienced undergrad so I didn't learn too much. Western blots for days. No paper of any kind out of it so no "good" experience.
You could still apply for a basic tech job. i.e. monkey work that you probably did as a UG.

I think what I'm wondering is, if I just applied to the 3 or so state schools, would they even listen to my story? One school straight called me lazy for not having a job, in which that week was the week I had interviewed for the job I have now. I think the interviewer hadn't seen the financial part of my file and mistook me for some of the kids that can live off their parent's dime. I've seen that a lot in this state so I can't say I blame her. So telling them I live off beans and rice might just make them laugh. :/
If it's legitimate, I don't see why they wouldn't listen. But what do you expect them to do for you? Cover travel costs to the interview or something? I think that'd be hard to swing regardless of how poor you are. Also could give off a charity-case image that may not be good as a first impression.

If you have FAP, you should legally be allowed a Skype interview option. Have all of the lower income students have their info session all at once, then have them all wait their turn until an interviewer picks up the laptop they're on. Would be close to the real thing.
Agreed on this point. The system is still highly traditional, I guess.
 

Pusheen

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Exactly. Quite easy to accomplish, and very easy to wack down price. 100-120k for 2-3k is doable on an A-->B type vehicle. Grab a 2BR (not sure if partner is coming with?) for $8-900/mo, assuming you don't take the med school in highly desirable/urban wherever.

civic/neon/corrolla/elantra 5-10+yrs old.

.
Why a 2BR? A decently sized studio or 1BR is fine for a young couple.

Yes, civics/corollas/camrys/other economy cars from the 90s with low mileage are fantastic for simple commuting and are cheap to drive and maintain
 
OP
Svelai
Sep 19, 2015
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Exactly. Quite easy to accomplish, and very easy to wack down price. 100-120k for 2-3k is doable on an A-->B type vehicle. Grab a 2BR (not sure if partner is coming with?) for $8-900/mo, assuming you don't take the med school in highly desirable/urban wherever.



So you'd starve for the sake of your own vanity.

You'll probably get in.



civic/neon/corrolla/elantra 5-10+yrs old.



Go be a pharm tech. Step 1: Read test prep material for like 30 mins and score a 50% on the exam. Step 2: Proceed to obtain $13+/hr job with flexible hours at local pharmacy.

Also look into ER tech. Probably a similar type deal.



You could still apply for a basic tech job. i.e. monkey work that you probably did as a UG.



If it's legitimate, I don't see why they wouldn't listen. But what do you expect them to do for you? Cover travel costs to the interview or something? I think that'd be hard to swing regardless of how poor you are. Also could give off a charity-case image that may not be good as a first impression.



Agreed on this point. The system is still highly traditional, I guess.
My husband keeps an eye on the Craigslist. Everything really is 150k+, don't know why. But we do still keep an eye out. As for pharm tech, someone in the building that makes maybe $1 more than me left that type of job already to work where I work. She's been here years because she can't find anything better. I have thought about pharm tech on the side, though. Not sure about "ER tech" but I'm hearing to get a paramedic job you need some kind of degree they offer locally that costs a bit to obtain. And I'm technically in a lab now, though its manufacturing and not research based.

For the OP, one potential job that can make more money and is somewhat flexible time wise and doesn't necessarily demand a ton for you is MCAT tutoring. I believe the cut off for Kaplan is a 33. If you qualify for that, there's another solid source of money potentially with hours that can sometimes be a bit more flexible than traditional jobs.

Also to the OP I'm not sure why re-obtaining rec letters would be an issue. One year since you had to contact them for letters is not that long of a time period.
I didn't meet the MCAT cut-off of 33 and my score's expired anyway.

And as for time, I doubt they barely remember me. I haven't contacted in a year and haven't been to that school in years. I heard the rec letters had to be made within 3 years of knowing the person and experience gained. I'm near that cutoff and will be when I get money to reapply.
 

StudyLater

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My husband keeps an eye on the Craigslist. Everything really is 150k+, don't know why. But we do still keep an eye out. As for pharm tech, someone in the building that makes maybe $1 more than me left that type of job already to work where I work.
I'd assume that person would have to have been unlicensed to be making <$11/hr. Either that or they got stiffed.
 

nhnative

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Just want to throw in a good word for cars with 150k + miles. I got my first car (late 90s accord) for $1000 with almost 200k miles on it, and drove it for 3 years, putting another 100k on it. I did have to do some minor repairs (alternator and some electric issues) but the engine was solid and overall it was an awesome car! My current car has almost 200k and is still going strong.
 
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sb247

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Get a cheaper apt now, eat cheaper and both of you pick up side jobs or better jobs. With no kids you shouldn't be dead broke making a combined $20/hr.

Also, as you are applying start talking to the army/national guard. As soon as you are accepted you commission and get you checks started. Money wise, your spouse needs a game plan to step it up. Long term in life $11/hr doesn't cut it. Waiters make more in my home town
 

LizzyM

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You've gotten tons of good information here. I'll add a few more ideas:

It is possible to take public transportation to interviews and stay with student hosts thus saving the cost of a hotel, gas, parking, and the opportunity cost of having your spouse skipping work to go with you. If he's going to skip work anyway to drive you, leave him home, take the car and stay with a student host so you save on the cost of a hotel. Or take the car, and have him take a cab or find a ride on that day or two.

The MCAT exam is $300 and you can purchase 2015 test prep materials for <$200 on Amazon. No way this should run you into 4 figures.

As a non-traditional applicant, you can use a LOR from current employer. You should also stay in touch with faculty who knew you well when you were in school. Send an email once a year with an update. When it comes time to ask for a LOR, send the request along with a copy of a major work (final paper) you did for that class or a description of your project, class discussions that you thought were particularly memorable or other ways in which you might jog the professor's memory. Don't send your resume, your personal statement or other items. The adcom wants to know what the writer knows about you, not a regurgitation of your application. I have seen good LOR from faculty even years after a graduate completed the coursework.

Not every med school requires/expects students to have cars. Ask about this at interviews. Some schools have clinical opportunities on campus, run shuttle buses, arrange low cost access to public transportation, or facilitate car-pool arrangements for students on rotations.

Own your mistakes. If you had 4 interviews in the past, the reason you didn't get admitted last time can't be solely that you applied too late.

If it makes you feel better to blame all your problems on circumstances beyond your control, then go for it. Wallow in it and stagnate. As an alternative, embrace your challenges. Think about how competent you'll be when you talk to patients in poverty who have diet-related chronic illnesses and how your experience with a plant-based diet can be useful in counseling.
 
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Also, you could check out buy/sell/trade Facebook groups in your area. Even my little town of cornfields has one.
If you are by a school you may be able to get some test prep books, from there, and oftentimes people will post their car on there rather than Craigslist due to CL's reputation (in this area, anyway).

I've obtained a lot of needed things- scientific calculator, furniture, bulk food purchases, clothes, some books, DVDs, etc this way and it's very cheap.
 
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RaspberrySlushy

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Just some thoughts...

As LizzyM said, you've gotten some great advice here, and I think a lot of it could really help and would be worth not dismissing out of hand.

I really empathize with your situation. I've been pretty broke for almost all my adult life, and it's not fun, and it makes things harder than if you had a better income. There's no denying that. Life is not fair and sometimes you just want to vent, or want it to be more equal, but in terms of moving forward, this is where it's time to get resourceful and move forward with what you do have. The fact that you've been able to save some money while working a low-wage job, that's a great thing. There are ways to work with what you have.

Kickstarter - it would be kind of a cool thing. Pride is not going to help in this case. Like the person who suggested it said, there's really not much to lose in this idea. Worst is that not much happens. Best is, you would help fund your med school reapplication process. About a decade ago, when I was really broke, I wanted to go to this writing workshop (writing has been a big hobby of mine throughout life) that I couldn't afford. Some friends pulled together and helped out with the registration, and something like that doesn't even have to feel like charity or pity. I felt like I put so much more into the workshop because I had all these people believing in me. It can make you take the experience more to heart when you know other people are rooting for you. It can make something feel bigger than just yourself.

Also, it's time to find ways to increase your income. Second jobs for you and/or your husband could be one way. Like others have said, it doesn't need to be an amazing job. Starbucks or fast food if that's what you need to do to go to med school. The bike that someone suggested is a good idea. So is public transit if your area has any. Also, think outside the box. You didn't make the cutoff to be an official MCAT tutor but what about offering tutoring services in general? You probably got decent grades in your pre-reqs if you got interviews before. You could advertise on Craigslist (just meet people in public, get a whiteboard and some markers) or I think they even have places where you can sign up to be a tutor and they will match you with students. It doesn't have to be MCAT, it could just be pre-req classes or you could even tutor high school students in science classes. This can be a way to make more $/hr than you are now, and it can also be pretty flexible. A lot of people make good money this way. Plus it would be a way to help you freshen up on subjects for the MCAT. Think about what skills you have and the way to make the most of them. Hell, you could even tutor people in Excel if that's something you're good at, because a lot of people aren't.

As for MCAT costs - you can keep these extremely low. First of all, if you have FAP you should be able to sign up for free or a really reduced cost (I forget which), and also get some of the AAMC practice materials for free/low cost. Then, the first testing cycle for the new test has ended, meaning there are probably a lot of people getting rid of their materials and you could probably find a set of books on here on the cheap. You could probably register + get materials for less than $300 if you have FAP. Plus, I'm not sure how much you've looked into MCAT prep but Khan Academy has put out a whole, enormous set of videos specifically covering the outline. They also have tons of practice passages. And it's all FREE. Combine that with a used set of prep books and your MCAT and prep is set, for very little $ out of your savings.

And, as others have said, take public transit, stay with students at schools, maybe look at applying to schools that are more local, or only a few hours away by car so that you're not paying for cross-country plane trips. Or get a card with really good miles rewards so that if you do fly at least you'll rack those up and maybe be able to use miles for one or more interviews. Or think about schools that you could realistically take a bus or train to. If you have to take Greyhound to get to an interview, so be it. It's not glamorous but if you really want this, keep it as an option.

It can be tempting to wallow. I totally get that. This summer, I did an MCAT prep class (which I won via test prep week here on SDN) and most (not all) of the other people in the program were taking the entire summer off to do the program, flying in from out of town, spending all day every day on the program. And that is what the program expected, 60 hours a week from the students in the program. That wasn't doable for me at all since I had to work and couldn't afford to take the summer off and devote to the program. It was frustrating, and there were times I felt really jealous of these kids who had the resources to just take off the whole summer and devote to this when I couldn't. But that kind of thinking, while you may need to vent frustration once in awhile, isn't going to help you move forward and give this process everything you've got.

So that's what I think you should focus on, moving forward. Start reaching out to your professors for letters of rec. Focus on your interviewing skills and trying to figure out what happened last time around and improving that. Practice interviewing. Start prepping for the new MCAT and start thinking about ways to increase your income. Look into what resources are out there in terms of free/low-cost MCAT prep, ways to cut costs with interviews, etc.

Being poor definitely makes this sort of endeavor harder. No denying that. But I don't think it makes the process impossible unless that's the only way you look at it.
 
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What about medical scribe positions? I just looked at glassdoor and they earn over 50k...is this for real? If I had known, I would have done an easier major.
 
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catie_jane

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......oh the premeds of SDN


OP the reason I ask is because if you're already thinking about medical school interviews I imagine you have a bachelors, and with that a competitive GPA. How is it with this the best you can do is a job that pays $11 an hour? The economy is no where as bad as it once was, I think you are selling yourself short. What are your credentials, why is looking for a different job not a possibility? What is holding you back?
I graduated #1 in my class as a Biology major and Psych minor and am currently working as an ED scribe that only makes 12$ an hour. I continue to work some shifts from a catering job I had in college but that only pays $10.50 (after I got a raise). No research labs or other big-paying jobs want to invest the time into someone like me that is going to be potentially leaving in the summer of 2016. Also, people during gap-years are trying to get more clinical experience, which we all know are not very high paying positions but the experience is invaluable.

I feel for you OP. I worked 3 part-time jobs in college to keep up with tuition and other expenses and have seen my bank account slowly drain during this application cycle. I wish you the best of luck though!
 
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gyngyn

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If you have FAP, you should legally be allowed a Skype interview option. Have all of the lower income students have their info session all at once, then have them all wait their turn until an interviewer picks up the laptop they're on. Would be close to the real thing.
Most of what is evaluated on interview day would be lost by this method.
It would have the effect of putting you at yet another disadvantage.
 

Goro

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In addition to the great advice here, also remember that this process is a marathon, not a sprint. Think of this in the long term. Med schools aren't going anywhere.

Whatever work you have, save your money until you have enough to meet the challenges of interviewing.

You can always keep in touch with your professors and tell them that your plans are long term, and so "can they please keep the LORs handy for the next time I apply?"


I'm trying to figure out how to get enough money to apply to med school. Though I am a reapplicant in my "gap years" that lost out by applying too late, I'd like to focus on the costs of applying & reapplying.

Even with FAP covering app costs, I'm still missing:
  • Money for a used car to travel to the hospitals, school, and back. ($5k+)
  • All the deposits that come with moving. More if the school starts before the loan year requiring you to have money for months to survive. ($2k-$10k)
  • Interview and retesting costs. (Assume $5-7k)
  • Seat deposit. (Up to $2k)
  • Health insurance gap to avoid huge tax penalty. How does that work? ($0?)
So on the low end, I'd have to have $15k to even have a chance at this point. I can't afford that, its taken me two years to save $4.5k. I'm 27.

Note that I'm working full-time and am married. I make $11/hr, partner makes $9/hr. No family assistance at all from anyone, because my close family has passed and my partner's family's extra money goes to his unemployed sister that just gave birth. We make too much for govt help but we're stuck eating beans and rice almost every day.We can't afford to do anything fun or even eat normal food.

On another note, how can I get recommendation letters again if I've been out of school so long? Its been a year since I last contacted those that gave me letters and I heard they had to be recent. How can they be if I've been out of school so long and they don't remember me?

So my questions are:
  1. How in the world do people get money to cover everything to apply to medical school and move IF they don't have help from family or a rich partner?
  2. How can you know what to do about recommendation letters if you can't afford to do anything and don't know when you'll have enough money to reapply? I thought three letters had to be from professors.
 

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You can always keep in touch with your professors and tell them that your plans are long term, and so "can they please keep the LORs handy for the next time I apply?"

Or use an LOR service. If I'd known some of my professors would retire (and go completely off the grid), I would have made sure to stock up on LORs since I was a freshman.
 

Ad2b

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@Svelai - everyone has given great advice. I have none. Just a short story that am hoping brings you a bit of hope as well.

After a long career doing something or other, I found myself unemployed, recently moved from my beautiful home to a cave with centipedes (yes, really; woke up with them crawling on my arms, one or two were 6" long). I was thrilled when my uni gave me a job as a STUDENT for $10 / hr. Using that, I ate Kraft Mac n Cheese for days and when I could not, I found the student lounges where there were left over pizza party pizzas (I'm a sucker for free food). Also, I volunteered a lot. That kept me sane while adjusting to my new life. It also adjusted my expectations. I learned that $10 a hour was not forever and soon, I was at $16.44 / hr when my boss found out what my old life had been like.

There is a very, very, very long Ad2b-ish story behind all of that. Suffice to say, you make your life what it is. I chose to chase this path and in doing so, chose to give up a lot of everything else. In choosing, I also chose to be happy, chose 1/2 full v. 1/2 empty, chose "will do" v "how can I" ... it got me through the darkest of years that I somehow survived.

What is your choice?
 

nhnative

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What about medical scribe positions? I just looked at glassdoor and they earn over 50k...is this for real? If I had known, I would have done an easier major.
I don't think this is true....I make $12/hr as a scribe, although we do get shift diff. for night shifts and training shifts, and OT sometimes. It does allow time for a second job though, I do childcare on the side (for $15-20/hr).
 
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I don't think this is true....I make $12/hr as a scribe, although we do get shift diff. for night shifts and training shifts, and OT sometimes. It does allow time for a second job though, I do childcare on the side (for $15-20/hr).
shift diff for nights are very very good but quite draining (possibly $5 extra every hour). Currently I work one job for free and the other for pay and I basically have 6 hours to sleep in between. It's rough but you survive on that pay. I'd recommend OP to do night shift if they have a partner who can watch the kids while you are gone. Maybe if they cover weekends part-time night, they can make even more (which may be more suitable for OP to make quick bucks)
 

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Chicken is another way to substantially boost the quality of your food for minimal cash. A pound of chicken on sale can go for 59 cents a pound for thighs- I can feed six people for less than eight bucks with a good marinade, some spices, and a mix of vermicelli, rice, and beans.
 
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psychtx

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Have you and your partner given plasma? You could do that twice a week. It's not much money, but it's something. I did it for extra money to buy groceries and gas. What about you and your partner giving your eggs or sperm? Or doing part-time jobs like newspaper delivery(some areas are ok with you using a bike), cleaning banks or schools at night, fast food, detailing cars. There are a lot of jobs with flexible schedules. Also, there's places like labor ready. Go on your off days.

If you search enough online, you will find MCAT study material at a fair price. Even free material.

"I'd feel bad begging." I think if this is your dream you should be willing to do whatever it takes. And willing to be tired, hungry and broke. Like I was told so many times in the Army, embrace the suck! I'm going to be in a similar position as you in a few years when I apply, but I've already started preparing. Good luck, I know it's hard.

I'd feel bad begging.



Been checking Craigslist a bunch. Everything here is expensive, dealers holding the good Toyotas, etc. Or there are old cars like Jaguars or BMWs that are too expensive to repair.
I've looked into getting a second job, but all of them seem to be part-time retail or food that require your entire schedule to be open to get work. I also get occasional overtime ($16.50+/hr OT) which is why I haven't gone full force to try and get one.



  • One school I interviewed at said they wanted to get students in with patients the first week. I interviewed at Ohio State, Uni of Louisville, Meharry, and Boonshoft (Wright State Uni), so it was one of those. I didn't worry about a car until that was mentioned.
  • Is the $100 MD only? I've seen higher for DO: https://www.aacom.org/docs/default-source/cib/2016_acom.pdf (Random school as an example) There's one DO in my state and with family ties, I might be able to get in there. The one I'm looking at is a $1k deposit.
  • Hotel and gas. I've also had to pay secondary fees for some schools. And don't forget food, though I pack those $1 Velveeta cups and tuna. Note that I go with my husband because of the one-car deal, so no staying with a host anyway.
  • I already have some books, never taken a class. But I figure with the MCAT remake, I might need to rebuy them. I bought this current set before the official new test was open to the public.
  • Our health insurance and dental is $330/mo but its the high deductible one. And we both have massive dental work to "catch up on" which is costing $1k/yr to get done over multiple years. Also need a vision plan the most, employer doesn't offer it.


I've worked for a Molecular & Cell lab, but I was an inexperienced undergrad so I didn't learn too much. Western blots for days. No paper of any kind out of it so no "good" experience. Good with Excel and Office, know a second language, but those don't seem to help. BS in Bio but there are near no science jobs around here, except at a local university, and I was told by a graduate there that funding is sketchy in most labs. Bit scary for me as I have no outside safety net. And having no car for myself is holding me back the most. My husband has jumped 3-4 jobs in the past 2 years and none pay more than $9/hr with an education degree and years and years of experience. Its just dead here.


I think what I'm wondering is, if I just applied to the 3 or so state schools, would they even listen to my story? One school straight called me lazy for not having a job, in which that week was the week I had interviewed for the job I have now. I think the interviewer hadn't seen the financial part of my file and mistook me for some of the kids that can live off their parent's dime. I've seen that a lot in this state so I can't say I blame her. So telling them I live off beans and rice might just make them laugh. :/



If you have FAP, you should legally be allowed a Skype interview option. Have all of the lower income students have their info session all at once, then have them all wait their turn until an interviewer picks up the laptop they're on. Would be close to the real thing.
 
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lovemango

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What about medical scribe positions? I just looked at glassdoor and they earn over 50k...is this for real? If I had known, I would have done an easier major.
Uh, no, most scribe jobs only pay average $8 - $10 per hour. There's a reason most scribes are premeds who will be moving on within a year or less.
 
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Uh, no, most scribe jobs only pay average $8 - $10 per hour. There's a reason most scribes are premeds who will be moving on within a year or less.
haha, that's what I thought. I have no idea why glassdoor says >50k salary as median. However, maybe because you don't work full time that pay rate is much lower? I know part time people earn substantially less than full time
 

steelersfan1243

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Most of what is evaluated on interview day would be lost by this method.
It would have the effect of putting you at yet another disadvantage.
Do you mind going more in depth what you mean by this? Is this in reference to outfit, demeanor, posture, etc.? Are they weighed that heavily?
 

YoungProdigy

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Didn't read through the whole thing but saw someone wrote that together you guys make about 40k. That's more than my parents made together, and we did okay. Something doesn't add up, although that may be because I didn't read.
 

gyngyn

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Do you mind going more in depth what you mean by this? Is this in reference to outfit, demeanor, posture, etc.? Are they weighed that heavily?
Words are only of modest importance.
How you interact with others, if you can pick up on nonverbal cues, helpfulness, the opportunity to recruit...
 

Crayola227

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If you can keep it a secret, like wear a wig and the town isn't too small and there isn't a med school where you live where you'll apply, try exotic dancing. Or adult hotline work. Or webcams. Sounds jacked but if you're a woman OK looking it might be a job option. The platform stripper shoes at a sex shop or online Amazon.com cost $50-100. You can get stuff to wear for your first shift at walmart or goodwill cheap. You could make money under the table, hopefully when you would need the car you have wouldn't conflict with your spouse. It's not much above begging and you and your spouse might not be OK with it, I get it. If schools found out it would be moral turpitude but I know people who did it in UG and got away with it and went to med school later.

Do you live where there is public transport?

Look at technical writing online. With a BS in Bio you might be able to get some side jobs where you write a science thing and get like $100-250 bucks depending and it's work from home. Just an idea.

Look into a scooter or motorcycle maybe. I hate them as a doc, deathmobiles, but can be cheaper. You can get a car cheaper than what you're predicting but who knows if it's any good. Sometimes you need to look outside your area for a good deal. Depending on your credit payment plans some places.

If you had your other expenses paid and got an acceptance, some places based on your credit and acceptance letter will give you a private loan for moving for med school.

I get total poverty, don't listen to any yahoos on here acting like "just get a better job" and wazaam.

That said, look into EMT or MA training, some of it can be some courses online which can get you to a better paying job and help your app.

Working as an elderly caregiver (butt-wiper) at memory care/nursing home, craigslist elderly care, or craigslist house cleaning jobs can be very flex hours, few hours, odd hours that might work with your other job or your spouse. Locations that might let you carpool. Seriously, there's stuff out there that could be as little as one Friday night overnight, but would give you another $100-200 a month. You might have to start doing 24 hr awake days to fit that in with another job, but people work those hours in med school no reason not to start now.

Tutoring can add odd hours. I get transport is the issue, sounds like all the horse**** I'm suggesting to addd extra dollars to what you're doing now should go for transport first to open up more financial opportunities.

Contact your local Deparment of Human resources. There are programs for food boxes and help with clothes, interview clothes, even if you think you make too much for formal government aid, usually qualifying for low income food boxes and stuff like that has higher income levels as cut offs. If you really really need help, don't list your husband and his income on forms for food boxes and whatnot. Sounds dishonest but non-official govt programs they often don't doublecheck like a background check, they go by what you report or just your paystub. I think it's morally justified if you're really pinching pennies and just about going hungry/malnourished to try to get that kind of help so you can make a better life and try and get out of poverty, if you game the system that way I wouldn't feel bad if you know it's for a higher goal and you're going to pay it forward 10-fold should you get to MD. Some of those food box programs really do have enough food to go around so you're not taking food out of other poor people's mouths. If you're not having to buy all the rice and beans you're eating you'll be able to save money there. Seriously.

Maybe a legal divorce will get you guys able to qualify more easily for assistance programs. Most states divorce can be cheap and easy. Sounds horrible I know, but financially for state assistance you're better off divorced with your incomes separated a lot of the time.

I know people who have gotten dollars together to live in a camp trailer in a state that is cheaper/has better social programs to save money. I've seen someone get it down to $400 per month living expense for 2 people that way, the rest getting saved up. Just be sure to sock that money in a safe deposit box or a hole in the ground so the govt doesn't see it in your bank as an asset if you're applying.

Hell, I've seen people buy stuff at Walmart or ebay or garage sales or craigslist and sell it for a profit online or via flyers around town to turn a profit. Some craigslist free stuff can be collected (furniture comes to mind) and sold later for *something*.

People have bred fish and aquarium plants then sold them back to fish shops later and made some money that way. You have to be careful that's economic with electricity or whatever.

I've known people to do some gardening for food or to sell.

Go to religious organizations. I don't care if you love Jesus or not, the people who really do buy into religion are supposed to be doing charity and good works for believers and not believers alike (although if they're hipocrytes on that just keep mum if you're not that into their religion) because that's what evangelism and charity really is about.

Depsite what you said, there are energy assistance programs for people above the poverty line. Dig dig dig online.

You're going to have to swallow your pride and go into survival "I steal a loaf of bread when I'm starving" mode if you want to get this done.

Legal sex work. Kickstarter. Begging with a street sign. Ass-wiping. Housecleaning. Lawnmowing. Fudging on certain assistance program forms for food. Joining religions you may or may not believe in. 24 hour work days if you gotta. Resale.

There is a way when there's a will, although as I've said I know it won't be easy and might require some unsavory stuff. It's a fallacy that all the really poor can bootstrap it without a level of ruthlessness you'll never want to admit to anyone a lot of the time.

Not all of this advice will be feasible for you, but I know for a fact there will be something here to help you financially.
 

Crayola227

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A vpn for your computer can $4-5 dollars a month, you can download "per rules of SDN legally" materials to help you with test prep for MCAT.
 
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I forgot about another thing. Mechanical Turk- it's basically helping people with various research/study projects.
You sign up and you can earn .10-1.00 for every one you do.
It sounds like very little, but it's easy and can add up.
Play some good music to decrease the tedium.
They'll deposit into Amazon credits or bank account.
I personally use Amazon, it's like a gift card and the money can be used to buy anything on the site. So Amazon pantry is really useful, you I can get books, etc.
 
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DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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@Crayola227 pretty much said it, but I'll add:

1. God. Religious organizations like Catholic charities, etc have free food and give away boat-loads of that stuff. My mother lived in her car in Southern California. I've also done the same. She actually told me she was pretty sure some of the very wealthy went to the free food lines because they were so frugal.

2. Legal sex work. No one ever has to know. You can pay for therapy later.

3. House cleaning. Topless house-cleaning even.

4. Psychic work from home jobs.

5. Bartenders make bank.

6. Food stamps, SSI, SSDI.

7. You can sell your hair, plasma, your husband's sperm, eggs for $5K-$10K

8. Participate in paid research studies. Online surveys.

9. Work from home as a virtual assistant. Fancyhands.com is one website.

10. Couchsurfer.com is a free website where you stay on people's couches when you travel (hello, medical school interviews?). For free.

I may or may not have had experience in all of the above and more. I agree with the 2 bedroom for 2 people is 2 much sentiment. And you can find a cheaper ride than $5K too.

How badly do you want it? Ask yourself. Then do it.

As for begging: people who "spange" on the streets can make up to $100 per day. There will always be good people out there who give what they have to those in need. Even if I'm broke which I usually am, I usually give what I have to those who ask.

I can't live in a world where I believe I'm in the minority who do. I refuse to believe that.

"When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it." Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
 
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Crayola227

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I pop in to say forget about SSI/SSDI as any sort of option.

People have stories about how easy it was to get/game the system but it's not.

2 year wait on average.
 

BeMD13

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@Crayola227, you would be a fun person to be broke with! You know how to get things done!

OP, this is going to sound terrifying and shameful but you need to start dumpster diving. I swear it isn't bad like you are thinking! I started juicing (organic) because they toss so much lightly bruised produce at grocery stores. You just need to know the right ones to go to! Look up freegans and this guy Rob Greenfield. They will tell you how it's done! They've pretty much turned eating out of dumpsters into political activism. You can stop food waste and eat like a king at the same time for free!
 
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StudyLater

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@Crayola227, you would be a fun person to be broke with! You know how to get things done!

OP, this is going to sound terrifying and shameful but you need to start dumpster diving. I swear it isn't bad like you are thinking! I started juicing (organic) because they toss so much lightly bruised produce at grocery stores. You just need to know the right ones to go to! Look up freegans and this guy Rob Greenfield. They will tell you how it's done! They've pretty much turned eating out of dumpsters into political activism. You can stop food waste and eat like a king at the same time for free!
Have heard of this and I dig the movement. I just honestly don't know if it's that practical.

 

BeMD13

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I've never tried to upload a photo on here but those are two hauls I brought back from dives. You are right that it might not always be practical. It is more time consuming than shopping but it's fun, it's free, and I like to think I am doing something small to eliminate food waste!
 
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