AMCAS Fee Assistance Program (FAP)
When people talk about medical school being expensive, the conversation is almost exclusively about tuition (which warrants its own post). However, applying for medical school is also a financial burden that is often overlooked or seen as something as “a sacrifice pre-meds have to make.” The MCAT alone carries a hefty price tag of $320. Combining that with costs of MCAT prep materials, practice tests, and primary + secondary application fees, the cost of the applying to medical schools can easily near a thousand dollars (if not, more).
For those who qualify, AMCAS offers a Fee Assistance Program (FAP) that can drastically reduce the financial burden of applying to medical schools. In this article, I will outline (1) benefits of FAP, (2) how to apply to FAP, (3) how to reapply/appeal a rejection, and (4) my personal take on FAP.
Benefits of FAP
Reduced MCAT registration fee, from $320 to $130
Access to MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements)
Official online AMCAS MCAT prep materials
AMCAS Application waiver (for the first 20 schools)
Reduced MCAT registration fee - immediately, you save nearly $200 upfront.
Official online AMCAS MCAT prep materials - this bundle includes:
4 Full-length practice exams
MCAT Section bank
2 Biology question packs
2 CARS question packs
1 Chemistry question pack
1 Physics question pack
MCAT online flashcards
Access to MSAR - MSAR lets you see the average MCAT + GPA of admitted students of all the medical schools on AMCAS. This may be a helpful tool to help you gauge your standing and design your medical school list.
AMCAS application waiver - the fee waiver lets you waive the primary AMCAS application fee for the first 20 schools. You can apply to more than 20 schools through AMCAS, but you must pay the price for sending in your application starting with the 21st school.
How to Apply to FAP
You can find the FAP application here: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/applying-medical-school-process/fee-assistance-program/
There are two (2) eligibility requirements that applicants must meet:
You must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States (also known as a green card holder), granted refugee or asylee status by the U.S. government, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, or person awaiting refugee or asylee status approval by the U.S. government and have a U.S. Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).
You must fall within the poverty level designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
AMCAS utilizes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ poverty level guidelines to determine eligibility for benefits:
2019 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States, The District of Columbia & U.S. Territories
Note that there are separate guidelines that AMCAS follows to determine eligibility for Alaska + Hawaii residents:
2019 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska
2019 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii
To navigate to the AMCAS site outlining all this info, follow this link here: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/eligibility/
If you find yourself within the brackets, go ahead and start the FAP application. The application will ask questions about your household income and/or your current financial aid package (if you are a college student) to verify your eligibility for the program. Depending on your situation, you might be asked to provide additional documentation (such as tax documents, error explanation letter (if you were rejected and are reapplying), etc.).
All the additional forms that you might need can be found here:
I recommend you apply to FAP as early as possible, preferably the week it opens. This is because 1) earlier access to resources the better and 2) you have time to address any hiccups along the way/appeal any rejections.
Reapplying to FAP/Appealing a Rejection
If you get rejected for FAP—apply again. In fact, keep reapplying until you receive it (of course, if you qualify for the benefits but got rejected). My application for FAP was denied four times before I finally received the benefits. Under the FAP guidelines, my family and I were well within the income bracket to qualify for FAP. Eventually, I had to call AMCAS personally and sort it out with an operator on the phone to demonstrate my eligibility for FAP and receive its benefits.
You can send them an “Error Correction Form” to explain your circumstances/correct and mistakes on your initial application. However, I recommend reaching out to AMCAS directly and sorting it out over email/phone. Phone would be ideal, as an operator can help you in real-time.
AMCAS for matters specific to FAP can be reached here:
My Personal Experience with FAP
I did not use any third-party MCAT test prep (e.g. Kaplan, Princeton Review, etc.) for practice problems or practice exams. I solely relied on the practice problems and tests provided by the AAMC through FAP for my studying. In my opinion, the Section Banks, Question Packs, and the Practice Tests were representative of the content and difficulty of my MCAT exam (AAMC is the one who writes the exam, after all). Contrary to what you might hear on Reddit or any other pre-med forum, I consider these resources to also have great re-test value. I saved over a thousand dollars thanks to FAP (MCAT prep material + free application fees for 20 schools). I consider the resources that I received through FAP as critical to my success on the MCAT and my application cycle.
Of course, take whatever I write with a grain of salt. These are my experiences. You might (and I know plenty of other people who) find third-party prep materials very helpful.
Applying to medical school is undeniably expensive. Some of my pre-med friends opened new checking accounts during sophomore year of college and dumped whatever work study money they made to save up for the application fees. Others tried to minimize the damage by applying to less schools. Even with FAP, students will still have to spend hundreds of dollars to take aim at medical schools. But perhaps, with FAP, students may no longer feel like they must shoulder on more jobs (on top of a stressful, pre-med workload) or shorten their “dream medical schools” list to pay for their applications.
Contributor: Chris Chang