Last Updated on January 13, 2023 by Laura Turner
Are you ready to start the application process? One commonly overlooked part of the process is to see whether you come from a disadvantaged background to qualify for a fee assistance program (FAP). Whatever your interest as a graduate or health professional student, most programs offer eligible applicants an opportunity to apply at a reduced cost. Here are some things you can research before you begin to submit your application.
Your tax returns are your most important documents.
With the new calendar year comes the chore of filing your taxes for the previous one. However, your tax returns could also help you reduce your application costs to health professions programs. If you think you may qualify for a FAP, filing an early return and having it handy will help you submit your requests to various programs.
Your adjusted gross income on your federal taxes and your household size determines your eligibility for most fee-assistance programs. Have your most recent 3 years of forms to see if you fall below the qualifying income limits. Tables can be found on the individual application help documentation, which is linked below.
AAMC Fee Assistance Program (for medical or podiatric students)
The Student Doctor Network conducted a webinar covering the benefits of the AAMC Fee Assistance Program (FAP). In addition to covering some of the AMCAS submission costs, FAP recipients also receive free study materials for the MCAT and reduced testing costs for the MCAT and PREview. Thus, podiatric medical school applicants should consider applying to the AAMC FAP prior to taking the MCAT.
Having a fee assistance waiver from AAMC or AACOM also allows you to request a test fee waiver for the Altus Suite, including Casper. Make sure you have this documentation for these programs or other eligible programs (such as the JAMP in Texas). Waivers are not given after you register or complete the Altus assessments, so make sure you investigate and ask early.
Note: Recently, Altus Assessments changed its corporate name to Acuity Insights.
National service can qualify you for a Fee Assistance Program.
Nontraditional applicants who take service years before applying may find that their participation may make them eligible for central application fee waivers to specific health professions. Eligible programs may include the Peace Corps, Americorps, the Leadership Alliance, the McNair Scholars Program, or the Gates Millennial Scholars Program. These service-based waivers require completing a form that is subsequently certified by a program officer, and the documentation is also required before applying. VMCAS also acknowledges additional service organizations or incentives for underrepresented candidates to apply with some financial assistance.
Program “coupon codes” and supplemental fee waivers
Some programs that participate in a central application service offer discount “coupon codes” that defray the costs of their supplemental fees to encourage you to apply. Each program should have its own criteria for issuing these “coupon codes,” including a specific timeline for when those coupons need to be redeemed. It is considered rude to ask for such a coupon code; usually, an admissions office will send you a code in response to an advertisement or marketing push to apply. It is proper etiquette to use the code within 24 hours of receipt and to request codes only from schools where you strongly desire to attend.
Application fee increases and fee assistance qualification criteria changes may be announced before April 15 (the tax filing deadline). If you are planning to apply in the early summer, proactively asking for fee assistance may help you buffer the financial burden of the application process.
Table 1. Application fees for 2022-2023 and fee assistance options
Updated November 28, 2022
|2022-2023 Application (Degree)||Base fee (US$)||Additional Program Fee (US$)||Financial Waiver?||Service Waiver?||Program Coupons?|
|AACOMAS (DO)||$198||$50||Base only (includes 1 program); see notes for dependents on tax returns||No||Yes|
|AACPMAS (DPM)||$190||$55 with initial submission, $70 after submission||No||No||Yes|
|AADSAS (DDS/DMD)||$264, discount available for Canadian applicants||$115, discount available for Canadian applicants||Base plus 3 total programs ($494)||No||No|
|AMCAS (MD)||$170||$43||American FAP or|
|CASPA (MSPA)||$160||$60||Base only||No||Yes|
|CSDCAS (AudD or MSLP)||$179||$56||Base plus 2 programs ($235)||No||Yes|
|OTCAS (MOT)||$155||$67||Base only||No||No|
|PharmCAS (PharmD)||$175||$55||Base only||No||Yes|
|PsyCAS (PsyD/PhD)||$80||$40||Base only||Yes (up to $160)||Yes|
|PTCAS (DPT)||$160||$60||Base only||No||Yes|
|SOPHAS (MPH)||$145||$55||Base only, expires after 14 days||Yes||Yes|
|VMCAS (DVM/VMD)||$220||$120||Base (if not given service waiver), expires after 21 days; a letter of explanation may be considered||Yes (if not given a financial waiver)||Yes|
Table 2. Waivers for service participation (requires certification)
|Americorps||y, active only||y||y|
|Active/Veteran Military Service||y||y|
|Gates Millennium Scholar||y||y|
|McNair Scholars Program||y||y||y||y|
|Teach for America||y|
|Vietnam Educational Foundation||y|
|International waivers (UN Least Developed Countries)||y||y, alternative process available for non UN LDC citizens|