How to Save Money While Applying for Residency
The cost of interviewing for residency can be a very expensive process for many applicants. Not only are there fees for the submission of ERAS, but additional costs include:
- Registering for NRMP
- Transportation to the interviews (flight, taxi to/from the airport, bus, cost of gas (if driving), renting a car, etc.)
- Accommodation during the interview (hotel, Airbnb)
- Cost of eating out (at airports when on-the-go, finding a restaurant in a new city)
- Buying an interview outfit and paying for dry cleaning of the suit
….and various other miscellaneous ones. This can amount to a surprisingly large fare! In fact, the median cost of interviewing in recent years was roughly $3,900, with a range of $1,000 to $7,500!
Of course, the costs of interviewing will be different for every applicant, and they revolve around ~3 main things:
- The number of programs the individual applies to (ie: once an applicant applies to more than 30 programs, each additional program costs $26!…see chart below for detailed ERAS fees)
- The number of interviews the applicant attends
- The location of each interview (an applicant interviewing on both coasts will likely spend more than someone targeting programs only in a specific region)
Because of these climbing costs, it is important to spend your money wisely and decide when to splurge vs save during interview season. We’ve compiled a list of ways you can save money while on the interview trail:
- If possible, try to schedule your interviews regionally (when you fly to a certain city and know you will have >1 interview in the area, try to schedule them around the same time so that you don’t have to fly there twice).
- Don’t book your flights too far in advance because the start/origin may change as you get more invites, and you will end up having to change your flight or possibly even have to buy a new one. Luckily, Southwest Airlines allows you to change your travel dates/times free of charge if you end up needing to reschedule an interview date (if the flight you are switching to is more expensive, you have to pay the difference)
- Sign up for an airline credit card. The “signing bonus” is often large enough where you can get several free flights with the points
- Check if your medical school offers an alumni host program.
- If you know the current interns/residents at the institution, ask if you can stay with them. They often live close to public transportation options/walking distance.
- Look into Airbnb options rather than hotels, but remember if the city/town doesn’t have great public transportation, the cost of cabs/Ubers may end up negating the savings of getting a cheaper hotel or airbnb far from the interview location
- Check to see if there are public transportation options from the airport to the program/your hotel – this will likely be less expensive than a cab/Uber
- Depending on how large of a field you are applying to, you may see the same applicants over and over again – try to share contact information and then arrange to split Ubers (or even hotel rooms at future interviews)
General travel tips
- Pack light so that you don’t need to pay extra for a large carry-on or checked bag
- Bring granola bars/snacks so you don’t always have to rely on overpriced airport food
Additional details and a video on this topic can be found at: https://students-residents.aamc.org/financial-aid/article/cost-residency-interviews/