UPenn student breaks down the $106,955 cost of one year’s tuition


‘Literally half the fees are embezzlement’: UPenn student breaks down the $106,955 cost of one year’s tuition

'just charging fees bc they can'


Jack Alban


Posted on Sep 9, 2023

College is a scam. It’s a recurring chorus that throngs of graduates have oft-repeated upon discovering that they could make a heck of lot more money working in another field that doesn’t require a degree. Or who find that the admissions process for many privileged folks has more to do with who their parents are and how much their family donates to said “prestigious” institution, and less to do with academic merit.

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Of course, not all degrees are created equal. If someone becomes an engineer or gets a degree in an in-demand field, more often than not they’re going to be able to secure themselves a job that pays well. For instance, doctors in the U.S. are some of the highest-paid health care professionals in the world. Of course, medical schools know this, which is probably why so many institutions charge students such high tuition.

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Usually, the better the school, the more expensive the tuition. That’s something that TikTok user and medical student Licia (@liciugh) addresses in a video where she breaks down the cost of attending the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

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@liciugh we love it here #greenscreen #medstudent ♬ Jazz Bossa Nova – TOKYO Lonesome Blue

UPenn is ranked No. 3 in the nation when it comes to medical school research programs, and it appears that it comes with a lofty price-tag to match its reputation.

Licia breaks down what it’s going to cost her to go to med school next year, noting that her family’s expected contribution to her expenses is $0. She adds that she’s living off campus as UPenn’s medical school doesn’t provide dorms for students enrolled in the program.

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She then jumps into the breakdown, explaining that the cost of an annual tuition and mandatory fees comes out to $65,940. Licia says that while the tuition costs are definitely “a lot,” she’s comforts herself with the knowledge that she’s going to become a doctor after she’s completed her education.

But that’s not the end of the fees. There’s a charge called a “General Fee,” which is a $3,802 charge, along with a $1,450 “technology fee.” Next up is a $688 “clinical fee,” followed by a “fee fee” which charges her $55 just because.

“We’re gonna title that one embezzlement,” she says.

“The direct cost came out to $71,935,” she says, before going into the “indirect cost.” That is what the school estimates it’ll cost her to live in the area while attending school: $20,240 for housing, $6,640 for food, $2,260 for personal expenses, $1,200 for transportation, $4,210 for health insurance, and another $390 fee attached to her cost breakdown for seemingly no reason.

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Her indirect fees came out to about $35,020, bringing her grand total cost of attending med school at UPenn for a single year to $106,955.

“It just feels like highway robbery. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, I don’t know,” she says.

She added that med school attendees can get loans to cover the indirect costs of living associated with the pursuit of their medical degree as well. “And I do get this question a lot so I’m just gonna answer it again, you can take out loans for that entire amount not just for the tuition but for like the estimated cost of living like indirect costs as well you can take out all of that in loans,” she says.

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The video has received more than 300,000 views since it was posted on July 27. Users who saw Licia’s post are shocked by the tuition fees UPenn is charging medical students.

One user said they couldn’t believe the school would tack on arbitrary fees. “they just be making these numbers up,” they wrote.

Someone else couldn’t get over the “fee fee” Licia showed off in her video. “Not they just said ‘fee’ wth,” the user wrote.

Another person said that in their home country in the Great White North, med school students would get a lot more bang for their buck: “$32,000 per semester??? That’s like 2-3 years of tuition in Canada.”

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“My face when you said for ONE year,” one commenter wrote.

And then there was someone who really wanted to know what in the world the “general fee” is and why it is separate from her other fees. “Plzz I would need an essay explanation on why general fee is different from tuition,” the user wrote.

In an email to The Daily Dot, Licia clarified that each time she has reached out to the financial aid department she has received an adequate breakdown of the fees in question. Her video, particularly the part where she calls the fees “embezzlement,” is a joke. She emphasized the video wasn’t maliciously intended.

The Daily Dot reached out to UPenn via email for comment.

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*First Published: Sep 9, 2023, 6:33 pm CDT

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