Pharmacy Schools Cost – Low, Modest, and High-Cost Schools

Pharmacy Schools Cost – Low, Modest, and High-Cost Schools.

Pharmacy Schools Cost: Although most of the average pharmacists owed $215,000 in student debt, around that number there is a huge range. You might owe $120,000 from attending a low-cost public pharmacy school, or you might owe $300,000 from attending a high-cost private school just as easily. These institutions are giving you the same chance to work as a pharmacist.

While many rankings of pharmacy schools focus on research, faculty-to-student ratio, job placements, and other quantitative and qualitative factors, we will focus primarily on cost.

Pharmacy Schools Cost

If you’re a driven, knowledgeable, hard-working person, where you get your Pharmacy Doctor (PharmD) degree will not have the deciding effect of what your final salary is going to be.

In pharmacy, you have a greater impact on the location of your job, the specialty you choose and the hours you work than the name of the school you attend. You may claim that some schools have a better rate of placement for the type of pharmacy you want to do, which may be true.

That being said, there is no positive difference in attending a more expensive school in financial results. Here are the four different types of pharmacy schools ranked by how much or how little your finances are destroyed.

The best value: In-state, low-cost pharmacy schools

College of Pharmacy degree programs are often attractively priced by states with good histories of support for higher education. This category includes Texas, Wyoming, New Mexico and other states.

In general, a low-cost public pharmacy school costs $15,000 to $20,000 annually. To addition to the cost of tuition, you need to borrow $15,000 to $25,000 to cover the cost of living while you are at work.

Most of these courses are four-year conventional alternatives. Here’s a list of some of the pharmacy’s low-cost schools.

Low-Cost Public
Pharmacy Schools
School-Estimated
Cost of Attendance
University of Texas
at El Paso
$118,296
University of
Wyoming
$136,308
University of
North Carolina
at Chapel Hill
$147,568
University of
New Mexico
$156,208
Texas A&M $158,646

Tolerable: In-state, modest-cost pharmacy schools

Once you get past the lowest-cost public institutions of $120,000 to $160,000, you run into public schools that receive less government funding and pass on the higher cost to students.

Many Pharmacy Colleges tend to charge tuition in the range of $20,000 to $30,000 per year, resulting in overall enrollment costs in the range of $160,000 to $220,000. The primary reason for the increased spending is higher tuition, as living costs for public universities appear to be equivalent to the lowest-cost institutions.

Modest-Cost Public
Pharmacy Schools
School-Estimated
Cost of Attendance
University of
Florida
$167,160
University of
Tennessee
$188,008
University at
Buffalo (SUNY)
$187,000
Virginia
Commonwealth
University
$213,168

Same education, more money: Out-of-state public pharmacy school cost

Here’s a general rule of thumb we found from looking at pharmacy school cost data: The cheapest public pharmacy schools add on a tuition surcharge of about $20,000 per year on average.

The modest-cost public pharmacy schools add on about $10,000 per year on average. This is likely due to the difference in state support given to pharmacy programs in different states.

Pharmacy Schools Cost - Low, Modest and High Cost Schools

This makes a typical out-of-state pharmacy school education at a public university cost between $200,000 to $260,000.

Pharmacy schools definitely try to admit as many out-of-state students as possible because it’s a huge revenue generator for them.

The only rational reason I could see to attend an out-of-state program is if it’s the only public option you get into. Private pharmacy schools are generally more expensive than even high-cost, out-of-state public Colleges of Pharmacy. However, that’s not always the case.

Another reason to attend an out-of-state program would be if your significant other had a geographical requirement to be in a specific location. Otherwise, going out of state for pharmacy school is an expensive proposition and falls into the third tier of the pharmacy school rankings.

Private pharmacy schools: Most charge more than you can practically pay back

Private pharmacy schools typically charge between $30,000 and $50,000 per year in tuition and fees. These schools frequently are located in higher-cost-of-living areas, requiring additional borrowing to pay for rent in Boston or San Francisco.

The total cost of attendance ranges from $220,000 to $350,000 for private pharmacy schools.

Let’s put private school in the fourth tier of the pharmacy school rankings. Here are some examples below.

Private
Pharmacy
Schools
School-Estimated
Cost of Attendance
LECOM
Bradenton
$222,542
University of
New England
$257,790
Roseman University
of Health Sciences
$259,722
Northeastern
University
$278,080
Touro University
California
$329,099

How do 3-year pharmacy programs compare with 4-year programs?

Some private institutions offer three-year programs that could make sense for some students. For example, the LECOM Erie School of Pharmacy offers a three-year pathway that supposedly has a cost in the $171,000 range.

The Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at the University of the Pacific also has a three-year program that costs $262,838.

If you’ve decided to go to a private pharmacy school, you’re generally better off going to a three-year program instead of four years. This is because of the extra year of salary you get from a three-year program along with one less year of borrowed living costs.

Comparing a 3-year PharmD program grad to a bachelor’s degree grad

Let’s assume you could graduate with a Bachelor of Science and earn $50,000 adjusted upwards for inflation. You save 25% of your income. Or you could go with LECOM’s three-year pharmacy degree and earn $120,000 right out of school (their estimate).

Here’s a table of what your finances would look like:

Year B.S. Degree
Portfolio
PharmD
Portfolio
B.S. Degree
Salary
PharmD
Salary
1 $13,125 -$58,229 $50,000 $0
2 $26,644 -$119,952 $51,500 $0
3 $40,568 -$185,379 $53,045 $0
4 $54,910 -$153,879 $54,636 $120,000
5 $69,682 -$121,434 $56,275 $123,600
15 $244,111 $261,670 $75,629 $166,108

Using their optimistic salary assumption, the financial break even for a new PharmD grad would be 15 years after undergrad graduation. You’re finally 37 and can start making some real money!

Comparing a PharmD to a B.S. Degree

However, many new pharmacist grads don’t experience this level of pay. We hear stories of $90,000 to $100,000 salaries for many pharmacists, especially in areas where there are plenty of new grads. Also, many pharmacists must now do Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) and Postgraduate Year Two (PGY2) to get into the specialties they want.

Here’s the new breakeven after accounting for two years of residency with a terminal $100,000 salary adjusted upwards for inflation:

Year B.S. Degree
Portfolio
PharmD
Portfolio
B.S. Degree
Salary
PharmD
Salary
1 $13,125 -$58,229 $50,000 $0
2 $26,644 -$119,952 $51,500 $0
3 $40,568 -$185,379 $53,045 $0
4 $54,910 -$172,254 $54,636 $50,000
5 $69,682 -$158,735 $56,275 $51,500
6 $84,898 -$132,485 $57,964 $100,000
22 $400,795 $412,507 $93,015 $160,471

That adds an additional seven years to break even. If you’re 22 at undergrad graduation, now you’re 44 years old before you begin to see financial returns from your PharmD compared to a simple bachelor’s degree.

Does the lowest pharmacy school cost even make sense?

The cheapest traditional programs like the one for the University of Texas at El Paso are four years. How would that cost look if we got to borrow at an unbelievably low cost of $118,296 for a PharmD?

Year B.S. Degree
Portfolio
PharmD
Portfolio
B.S. Degree
Salary
PharmD
Salary
1 $13,125 -$31,348 $50,000 $0
2 $26,644 -$64,578 $51,500 $0
3 $40,568 -$99,801 $53,045 $0
4 $54,910 -$137,137 $54,636 $0
5 $69,682 -$105,637 $56,275 $120,000
6 $84,898 -$73,192 $57,964 $123,600
7 $100,570 -$39,774 $59,703 $127,308
15 $244,111 $266,308 $75,629 $161,270

The breakeven is almost exactly the same as the three-year option from LECOM — 15 years after undergrad.

If you use the same PGY1 and PGY2 salary assumption with a $100,000 salary after, the breakeven for one of the cheapest four-year programs for pharmacy school is in year 21. So a bit better than the 3-year option with the same set of assumptions, but not much.

What do these pharmacy school rankings say about investing in a PharmD?

If these are the break evens for the lowest-cost PharmD programs in the nation, it’s clear to me that if your goal is having options in life, maximizing your finances and minimizing your stress levels, becoming a pharmacist at today’s pharmacy school cost levels is probably a suboptimal decision in 2019.

If you already have this level of debt, there are ways to drop that breakeven above to a younger age. You can be more frugal, make better use of pretax retirement accounts, optimize your loan forgiveness strategy by choosing the right tax filing status as a married couple and put away money for the tax bomb if you’re in the private sector. You could also optimize Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) at a nonprofit employer. We help with all of these decisions professionally.

You can achieve financial success as a pharmacist

The pharmacy profession is definitely not all doom and gloom. You can be a super successful pharmacist. One pharmacist even achieved financial independence and co-founded a podcast likely valued over seven figures.

A lot of your financial future will hinge on what your savings rate is. If you plan to put 10% to loans and investments, you’ll work until your mid-70s. If 30% of your pay goes to loans and investments, you’ll likely be able to retire in your mid-50s.

You can achieve financial success as a pharmacist

The point is, if you or someone you know is making the decision today whether or not to go, We think there are better career options for most people out there financially unless your only passion is pharmacy.

Supposedly around 3,000 students didn’t match to residency programs for this recent cycle. I’m seeing things on social media where PharmD grads are asking if they could do pharmacy tech work for a couple years. The job market for pharmacists overall has radically changed in the past 20 years. That just means you need to be smarter with your decision making.

Pharmacy school rankings in 2019 should be based on how fast they can get you a degree and how cheap that cost is to get you there. Most other metrics are fluff.

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