While the costs of different physician assistant schools vary, all schools require a substantial investment of time and money. These obligations require careful planning. Comparisons of the costs of one school versus another must be made carefully. Some schools quote annual tuition, others per-credit cost, and others tuition for the entire program. Some schools readily provide accessory costs, including books, fees, and lodging. For other schools, students need to look further to flesh out the full range of costs. The totality of expenses is important in determining affordability.
Generally, community colleges are able to provide a physician assistant education at a cost lower than a state school or private school. When looking at annual tuition rates, be mindful of program length. A 24-month program at $30,000 per year is less expensive than a 28-month program at $30,000 per year. The government Interservice Physician Assistant Program in conjunction with one university costs nothing; in fact, students are paid a salary during their years of schooling, but students must then commit to four years of service with the armed forces.
Tuition costs alone don’t tell the whole story of the cost of physician assistant school. Students must factor in living expenses, including housing, food, health insurance, utilities, and transportation. Clinical rotations, in particular, tend to be in a variety of locations and require transport.
Given the extraordinary range of fees, physician assistants should be diligent in researching different schools and comparing costs. Budgeting and planning are important steps in preparing for school. Part of planning should be evaluating financial aid options, includingloans, grants, and scholarships. Physician assistant students should not anticipate working during school to help cover costs. Many physician assistant schools expressly warn that the curriculum is too demanding and the clinics too time- consuming and irregular to allow for outside work.