Despite Veterans Affairs scholarship support, costs for veterans attending medical school are high, according to study results published in JAMA.

Researchers compared VA scholarship support for veterans in MD programs, JD programs, and MBA programs across the same institutions. The scholarship support was determined by funds from the GI Bill — available to all honorably discharged veterans who served on active duty — the academic program’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon scholarship program for veterans, and the matching VA Yellow Ribbon award.

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Study investigators used tuition data for the 2011 to 2016 academic years from all US universities offering accredited graduate programs. The median per-program tuition for each year, total amount of VA scholarship support, out-of-pocket tuition costs, and the percentage of covered tuition were calculated using the data for each program.

Through their research, the investigators found that scholarship support was lowest for MD programs. For MBA programs, the median out-of-pocket tuition was $0 (100% covered), for JD programs it was $4,972 (85% covered), and for MD programs it was $27,456 (45% covered). Despite VA scholarship support, medical school costs for veterans are high. This discrepancy may be due to MD programs using only other MD programs to benchmark their support levels, or because veterans less frequently enter MD programs than other types of graduate programs.

Although the study showed a clear difference in the amount of scholarship support between graduate programs, it was somewhat limited by the lack of data regarding additional scholarship funds or veteran attendance at individual graduate programs. The investigators suggested that further research is needed to understand enrollment of veterans in graduate programs and the graduation rates of veterans who receive VA scholarship support.

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Graves S, Seagle BL, Kocherginsky M, Yang J, Grace A, Shahabi S. Scholarship support for veterans enrolling in MD, JD, and MBA programs. JAMA. 2018;320(11):1197–1198. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.10260