Cost of Attendance Determinations

Purpose and Design

A Student Cost of Attendance Budget (COA) is developed each academic year for use in the evaluation of financial need. The student budget has two primary purposes: 1) to give students an estimate of reasonable costs to attend the School of Medicine; and 2) to establish the federally required uniform cost of attendance standard against which to measure financial need. Living expense items in the budget are modest and require the student to carefully plan their expenditures. While the published budget offers a suggested breakdown for housing, food, transportation, and personal expenses, students are free to exercise flexibility within these line items to accommodate personal preferences, as long as total spending does not exceed the total living expense budget.

The standard student budgets are based on typical expenses for a single student. Costs for the student’s spouse/children are not included in the standard student budget; these expenses are accounted for in the need analysis formula when determining the expected student/spouse contribution.

Budget Expenses


Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine tuition rates are reset annually by the Office of the Dean and cover courses taken throughout the academic year. Tuition is billed by semester. Eight semesters of full tuition are required for the MD degree. Students who opt for the 5-year MD program to pursue independent projects (e.g., research, enrichment activity, etc.) are assessed a reduced tuition rate each semester of enrollment beyond the eighth. MD students who are in a dual degree program will be billed according to the length of the program and the school through which the dual program is completed.

Student Medical Plan Fee (Health Insurance)

All enrolled students must be enrolled in the Student Medical Plan provided by University Health and Counseling services (which is serviced through Aetna) or a comparable outside plan. The Student Medical Plan fee is charged to all students, but can be waived via the student’s SIS account. In order to waive the fee, you must provide proof of a comparable outside plan.

Books and Supplies

The MD budget allotment for books and supplies was developed with the assistance of a student survey that reported the costs of the most commonly purchased textbooks and supplies at Case Western Reserve University School Of Medicine.

Housing and Food Allowance 

The housing component for the MD budget is based upon the average cost of an eleven month rental cost of off-campus housing. Students should consider housing options carefully; additional financial aid is not available to single students whose living arrangements have caused them to have expenses in excess of the total standard student budget. We encourage students to look for housing in the Cleveland Heights area near the main Case Western Reserve campus. Apartments closer to the Health Education Campus are not assumed to be student housing and student budget will not be increased to accommodate more expensive options.

The food component of the student budget assumes grocery expenses and cooking at home for a single person. We encourage students to limit eating out, as the food budget will not allow for consistent fast/casual meals out.


The transportation allowance assumes local travel by car and/or public transit via the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) system to and from the local residence to the medical school campus. The transportation budget also includes an allowance for the cost for one round trip to a student's permanent residence. MD students are responsible for arranging their own transportation, including that of their daily commute to and from their clinical sites. MD Students in the clinical years receive a specific allowance for clinical training travel.

Personal and Other

The personal expense budget assumes the need for personal care items, laundry and dry cleaning needs, fitness center/gym memberships, as well as hobbies and activities that allow students to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their medical school career.

Optional Budget Line Items

Computer Purchases

The cost of purchasing a personal computer and the necessary peripherals and software that accompany it is not part of the standard student budget. However, a student may request that the Financial Aid Office apply an increase to his/her student budget to cover the cost of buying a computer for educational purposes. For those students who are interested in purchasing a computer, the Financial Aid Office will allow a one-time budget increase of up to $2,000.

To apply for a budget increase for a computer purchase, a student must purchase the computer and make copies of all computer specifications and sales receipts. These copies should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office along with a written request for a budget increase. Budget increases are allowed only for a computer purchase made within the academic year for which the budget increase is requested. Students should plan to buy all of desired equipment at one time because it will not be possible to make subsequent budget increases for additional peripheral hardware or software. The expense of a computer purchase will generally be met first with Direct Unsubsidized loan funds to the extent permitted by federal regulation, and then with funds from either the Direct Graduate PLUS loan program or a supplemental private loan program.

For additional information about this process, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Child-Care Expenses

In the case of a student whose spouse works or attends school, the student may petition the Financial Aid Office to include reasonable child care expenses in the student budget by half the expended cost. The student would be required to submit supporting expense documentation such as canceled checks or a letter/invoice from the child care provider. This increase to the budget is ordinarily met with Federal Unsubsidized Loans and/or Grad PLUS Loans.

Married Students

Spousal income is analyzed by the institutional need analysis methodology in such a manner that generally allows for most of a spouse's income to be used toward his/her own living expenses. Therefore, the cost of living expenses will not be increased to accommodate a spouse who is not working, as financial aid is meant to be utilized for the student’s educational expenses only.

Extenuating Medical/Dental Expenses

Students may petition the Financial Aid Office to adjust the student budget to accommodate reasonable, yet extraordinary, expenses such as uninsured medical/dental costs. If the petition is approved, these expenses ordinarily would be funded with Federal Unsubsidized Loans and/or Grad PLUS Loans. 

Extenuating Car Repair Expenses

Students may petition the Financial Aid Office to adjust the student budget to accommodate reasonable, yet extraordinary, expenses such as auto repair. If the petition is approved, these expenses ordinarily would be funded with Federal Unsubsidized Loans and/or GradPLUS Loans. 

Non-Allowable Expenses

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine stipulates that student budgets may not include the costs of purchasing and maintaining an automobile, expenses related to the support of the student's parents or siblings, or funds for the repayment of a loan taken in a previous year. Relocation expenses for moving to Cleveland in the first year or for moving away from Cleveland at the end of the fourth year are also not allowable expenses for the purpose of establishing eligibility for financial aid, nor is the cost of furnishing an apartment. Study materials for Step Exams and Board Exam Prep Courses do not qualify for cost of attendance budget increases, as they are federally prohibited as such since they are not required by the program for all students.