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Budgeting for the upcoming four years of medical school will be very different from real-world budgeting. Instead of estimating how much you can spend based on a fixed income amount, you must estimate the amount of financial aid needed to cover your expenses in the upcoming months. Before requesting loans, use the Budget Worksheet to calculate your actual living expenses in the months to come. We advocate borrowing only what you need to maintain a basic comfortable lifestyle and to limit any unnecessary spending.

Take time to prepare your Academic Year Budget Worksheet. In preparing a budget, keep the following one-time expenses that are unique to each year in mind.


  • Moving expenses. This cost cannot be included in the student budget because the expenses are incurred before the start of the academic year
  • Start up costs such as utility deposits
  • Fall semester: Purchasing instruments


  • Spring semester: USMLE Step 1 fee


  • Clothes for clerkships where professional dress is required
  • Increased transportation costs for travel to hospitals, parking, etc.
  • Spring semester: USMLE Step 2, clinical skills registration


  • Summer or fall semester: USMLE Step 2, clinical knowledge
  • Summer or fall semester: Travel for USMLE Step 2, clinical skills
  • Travel expenses for residency interviews
  • Electronic residency application service
  • Graduation expenses: invitations, cap and gown, diploma, certificates, etc.
  • Living expenses between graduation and the first paycheck for medical residency

Refund Disbursements

Another point to consider in budgeting is that financial aid refunds are disbursed at the beginning of each semester. Please refer to the Academic Calendars for refund disbursement dates.

Once a student has accepted their financial aid and completed all of the necessary requirements, the financial aid funds will be scheduled to be disbursed into a student’s Bursar account within 10 days from the start of classes each semester. Under federal regulations, federal aid must be disbursed in two equal disbursements during the academic year. All financial aid funds will first be applied directly to the Bursar’s account and applied towards a student's billable costs. VTCSOM encourages all students to set up direct deposit for convenience in depositing funds received in excess of tuition and fees.

Living Expenses

The term "living expenses" refers to room, board, personal, and transportation costs. The estimated cost of attendance for M1 and M4 students includes 11 months of expenses. During the second and third years, living expenses increase as clerkships or electives are scheduled over a twelve month period. The amount for room and board in the budget is meant to cover the average rent, utilities, and food costs for the single student’s academic year. The personal expenses allotment is for miscellaneous costs, such as clothes, personal hygiene items, and entertainment costs, as well as the cost of the student health insurance plan for a single student. The transportation portion of the cost of attendance includes commuting costs to-from school, clerkship hospitals or health care facilities, and the cost of traveling home on breaks. Your budget cannot be adjusted for the purchase of a car.

Note to Entering First-Year Students

Entering students are advised to start the school year with some money to ensure all upfront expenses are paid timely. It is strongly recommended that you pay July rent prior to receiving fall semester financial aid. Also, it helps to have some extra money available for buying books and supplies the first week of fall semester and for any unforeseen emergency expenses.