If you're interested in working in the medical field as your career, but you do not want to become a nurse or a doctor, then consider becoming a physician's assistant. Otherwise known as a P.A., there are many great reasons to head down this path.

Pursuing a career as a physician's assistant will take much less time than it would to become a doctor. However, you can still have the opportunity to work in a hospital or private practice, where you can be exposed to all different levels of medical care. The only downside is that P.A. school can be rather expensive. Luckily, there are affordable options if you know where to look for cheap physician assistant schools.

What Is the Average Cost of P.A. School?

The cost of P.A. school can vary dramatically from one school or program to another. The cost of tuition for cheap physician assistant schools can range anywhere from $40,918 at the lowest to $81,555 on average, according to beaphysicianassistant.com. However, some schools cost well over $100,000. Your tuition for P.A. school will be largely based on whether or not the school is private or public and if it is public, whether or not you are an in-state or out-of-state resident.

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Additionally, most P.A. school candidates have gone for their bachelor's degree before applying to P.A. school. Some students may have even pursued another master's degree first to make themselves stand out. This could mean that you may have already spent a lot of money just to get to the point where you can become a competitive candidate for P.A. school.

Therefore, if money is a concern for you when applying to P.A. school, it's important to look at the cheapest P.A. programs out there.

A List of the Cheapest P.A. Programs

To start your search for one of the cheapest P.A. schools, you'll need to know where to look. There are plenty of affordable P.A. schools out there that provide the education needed in order to become a physician's assistant.

It's important to understand, though, that even if these programs are more affordable, that still does not necessarily mean they are cheap. Nevertheless, attending one of these schools can save you a decent amount of money.

Missouri State University

Missouri State University has one of the most affordable P.A. programs. Based on the Missouri State University website, the tuition cost for first-year residents is $21,458, and the cost for second-year residents is $22,385. For nonresidents, the first-year tuition cost is $33,302, and the second-year tuition cost is $35,075.

Wayne State University

Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan has also made the list of cheapest P.A. programs. According to bestmedicaldegrees.com, the cost of the P.A. program at Wayne State University, which happens to fall in the top 40 in U.S. News & World Report's best physician assistant program rankings, is $33,156 for residents and $71,874 for nonresidents.

University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health

The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health has a two-year P.A. program that's considered one of the best in the country. According to bestmedicaldegrees.com, the tuition there is $35,252 for residents, $46,427 for Minnesota residents and $71,901 for nonresidents.

Wichita State University

Wichita State University, located in Kansas, is one of the cheapest P.A. schools to which you can apply. According to the Wichita State University website, the estimated cost of tuition for residents is $27,395, and the estimated cost of tuition for nonresidents is $67,281. The school is rather competitive, though, with only 48 slots offered each year.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

There are a number of P.A. schools based in Texas that offer some of the country's most affordable programs. At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the total estimated cost with tuition and fees combined for the P.A. program is $39,485 for residents and $85,965 for nonresidents. This is a 30-month Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, according to the UT Southwestern Medical Center website.

University of Texas School of Health Professions – San Antonio

The University of Texas School of Health Professions – San Antonio is yet another affordable P.A. school in the Lone Star State. However, the costs are significantly lower for residents of Texas. According to the UT Health San Antonio website, in-state residents will need to pay $16,469 the first year, $13,885 the second year and $4,908 the third year. Out-of-state residents will pay $38,464 the first year, $32,146 the second year and $11,547 the third year.

SUNY Upstate Medical University College of Health Professions

The tuition cost of the P.A. program at SUNY Upstate Medical University College of Health Professions might not be so affordable compared to the other cheap physician assistant schools on the list, but it is still considered very cheap for New York state.

According to the Upstate Medical University website, tuition for this P.A. program is $7,725 per semester for New York residents and $14,695 for out-of-state residents. Students are required to pay for eight full-time semesters before graduating, which would come out to approximately $61,800 for residents and $117,560 for nonresidents. For more precise information, contact the school.

CUNY York College

Another cheaper P.A. program in New York is the one offered at CUNY York College. According to the CUNY York website, the total cost for the P.A. program at this school is $31,515 for residents and $70,035 for nonresidents.

Miami Dade College

Miami Dade College is a great option for prospective P.A. students who want to live and study in the Sunshine State for less money. According to the Miami Dade College website, the physician's assistant program is $31,866 for Florida residents and $77,347 for non-Florida residents.

University of Iowa Health Care Carver College of Medicine

The University of Iowa Health Care Carver College of Medicine has quite a long history, being the first medical school in the nation to allow women to study there. These days, both men and women are saving money by choosing this three-year P.A. program, where tuition is $21,561 for residents and $83,912 for nonresidents.

University of Nebraska

If you're looking for another affordable P.A. school option, consider looking into the University of Nebraska. According to paschoolfinder.com, the tuition for the physician's assistant program here is $35,055 for residents of the state and $104,511 for nonresidents. Again, like other P.A. schools on the list, there's a big difference in cost for residents versus nonresidents.

Applying to Cheap Physician Assistant Schools

There's no question that even though these schools have what's considered the cheapest physician's assistant programs in the country, they are still rather expensive. Therefore, there are some things that are worth considering when it comes time to apply to P.A. school:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to research schools before applications are due.

  • Try to find a program in your state. It will be much cheaper to go as a resident than a nonresident.

  • Apply to several schools, as P.A. school is quite competitive.

  • Inquire about financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

  • While price is important when considering schools, don't choose your school solely based on the lower cost of tuition. Just because a school is inexpensive doesn't mean it's not good, but it shouldn't be the only criteria used to determine whether or not a school is the right fit for your path to become a physician's assistant.

About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.