The Hidden Cost of Residency Programs and Interviews

Medical students have applied to more residency programs than in the past few years, applying to an average of 40 residency programs. International medical students applied to more residency programs, averaging around 100 applications.

Applying to residency programs and flying around the country for interviews can add up quickly. Students can spend over $10,000 in applying for residency programs, buying airline tickets, and accommodation to support their whole residency interview process.

If you are a competitive medical student that applied to 40 residency programs and ranked all of them, realize that you may be asked to interview to over 10 residency programs. According to an AMA study, students interviewed to at least 12 residency programs.  That means many flights, hotels, and time spent on securing a residency spot. Based on survey data, the majority of students reported spending $1,000-$5,000 to interview for residency programs, according to this study. However, costs depend on what specialty you apply to, since students who choose more competitive specialties, like surgery or dermatology, tend to spend more.

International medical graduates spend much more money on residency interviews since they may have to fly internationally and try to attend all of their interviews in the USA in order to secure a residency spot.

Costs to Consider for Residency Interviews

  • Airfare
  • Hotel
  • Time
  • Trip Delays/Cancellations
  • Residency Applications
  • USMLE Transcripts

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*ERAS Application Fees

Ways to Budget Your Residency Process

In order to finance their residency interviews, many students used their own funds or take out additional educational loans. Federal student loans may not cover additional expenses including airfare and lodging for residency interviews.

Utilize the NRMP’s residency match and interview scheduling PRISM app.


If taking out student loans is not new to you, you can consider the residency loans below.

 Sallie Mae Residency Relocation Loan

This loan is to support your journey of residency interviews, applications, and support. The variable interest rate is from   3.82% – 10.19% APR* and you can defer your principal and interest payments if you are enrolled at least half-time in medical school. You can take out from $1,000 to $15,000 in loans.

Wells Fargo MedCAP-XTRA Loan

The variable interest rates range from 7.69% APR (with discounts) to 7.92%. You can take out from $1,000 to $15,000 in loans.

PNC Bank/AES-Health Professions Residency and Relocation Loan

Variable rate loan interest rates range from 3.86% to 10.81%. You can take out from $1,000 to $15,000 in loans.

Other Resources


Is considered an all-in-one resource for frugal medical students looking for low-cost budget flights and accommodation. You can plan your trip and see the train, rental car, and flight options.

Google Flights

This website, is perfect for finding the cheapest flights based on dates across all airlines.

Name Your Price – Priceline

On Priceline, you can name your price so you can bid on hotels based on your budget. It is possible to stay at a 5-star hotel for $60. As a frugal student, you can name your price for less at a less luxurious hotel.


Apply and join the discussion today!

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