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Frequently Asked Questions

About the Program

Where is Carbondale, Illinois?
Carbondale is a city of 25,000 near the southern tip of Illinois, in a beautiful region known as “Little Egypt” – close to the Mississippi River and on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest. It is the home of the flagship campus of Southern Illinois University. Carbondale is NOT near Chicago. It is located approximately 100 miles southeast of St. Louis, 330 miles south of Chicago, 200 miles north of Memphis and 200 miles northwest of Nashville.

I am not an Illinois resident. Am I eligible for MEDPREP?
The highest priority for MEDPREP participation is given to residents of central and southern Illinois. However, many of our applicants and participants come from out of state.

I am a career changer. Can I take my prerequisite science courses in MEDPREP?
MEDPREP is an academic enhancement program. The MEDPREP curriculum is thus designed for individuals who have completed their prerequisite science/math courses, but need additional help to improve their science foundations in order to prepare for the medical or dental school application process. It is not designed to help non-science students complete science prerequisites. If you have just one or two prerequisite courses remaining, you may be able to complete these as part of the MEDPREP curriculum. If you have multiple prerequisites remaining that you will not be able to complete before starting the program, you are unlikely to be admitted to MEDPREP.

Am I an “educationally disadvantaged” student?
An “educationally disadvantaged” individual comes from an environment that has impeded that student in obtaining the knowledge and skills required to enroll in and graduate from a health professions school. Individuals can be educationally disadvantaged without ever thinking that they were! Upon reflection, if you feel that you could be considered as “educationally disadvantaged,” you should indicate this on your MEDPREP application. The application provides a space for you to write several sentences about your circumstances so we may better understand your background and any hardships you may have faced in your educational journey.

Do I have to stay in the program for two years?
We strongly encourage students to complete both years of the program. The first year of MEDPREP focuses on MCAT/DAT preparation, and students take the examination in the spring of their first year and apply for medical/dental school that summer. During the second year (the health professional school application year), MEDPREP students take upper-level or graduate science and pre-professional coursework to become well prepared for professional school matriculation. Additionally, students receive significant faculty assistance with the application process. Most MEDPREP alums report that the preparation obtained in the second year of MEDPREP greatly enhanced their success during the first year of medical/dental school.

Can I work while attending MEDPREP?
MEDPREP students enter the program for a “new start.” Many students have been hampered in their undergraduate years by the necessity of working entirely too much. Thus, MEDPREP students are encouraged to arrange their finances so they do not have to work, or so they can work a minimal number of hours (less than 10 per week).

About the cost

What does MEDPREP cost?
MEDPREP Traditional Program students pay tuition at the undergraduate rate. MEDPREP students accepted into the Master in Public Health/MEDPREP or Master in Biological Sciences/MEDPREP options will pay tuition at the graduate rate. Undergraduate tuition rates are identical for in-state and out-of-state students. For out-of-state students choosing one of our graduate options, out-of-state tuition rates are 2.5 times higher than in-state tuition. All students pay fees in addition to tuition costs.

Students enroll for 6 credit hours their first summer, and 13-18 credit hours during each succeeding long semester of the program. Please utilize SIUC's online tuition and fee calculator to receive an accurate tuition and fee cost estimate for your residency status and program goals. You may also find the SIUC budget estimation page helpful.

SIUC Tuition and Fees Calculator

SIUC Estimated Cost and Budgeting Page

You may also contact the SIUC Financial Aid Office for additional information.

What is the cost of living in Carbondale, Illinois?
Cost of living in a small town in the Midwest is generally considered to be less expensive than in a large US city. However, living in a university town can cost more than one might anticipate. For apartment availability and rates, see For estimates about cost of living, visit the SIUC Estimated Cost and Budgeting Page.

How can I become an Illinois resident to save money on tuition?
Students who pay out-of-state tuition generally choose to apply for Illinois residency once they move to the state. In-state residency is achieved by living in Illinois for six months and obtaining state voter registration and ID or driver's license. Information on applying for Illinois residency is provided to incoming students during the first summer.

How do I apply for a tuition waiver?
MEDPREP has a limited number of tuition waivers that are awarded to students each semester. The tuition waiver application will be supplied to you after you are accepted into the program. It consists of a very short application page, but the completed application must also include a copy of your FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR). The applications are due in early May; notification is given in early June.

What are my chances of receiving a tuition waiver?
MEDPREP’s undergraduate tuition waivers are awarded based on academics and financial need. Preference is given to returning MEDPREP students (second-year students). Thus, first-year students should NOT count on a tuition waiver. However, because most second-year students do not take summer courses, incoming students have a better chance at a tuition waiver for their first summer in the program. Please note that MEDPREP students in the MPH-MP option are not eligible for tuition waivers after the incoming summer term, and MEDPREP students in the MBS-MP option are not eligible for tuition waivers at any time due to graduate student status.

Are there grants or scholarships available for MEDPREP?
Once a bachelor’s degree is received, the term “grant” virtually disappears from available financial aid. Most MEDPREP students finance their program participation through FAFSA loans, savings, and family assistance. MEDPREP has a small number of endowed and donor-funded scholarships, awarded to second-year students. These scholarships are $500-$1000. More information about MEDPREP scholarships can be found on the MEDPREP Scholarship Page. Enrolled students may also apply for SIUC academic scholarships. Graduate students may also apply for graduate tuition awards and scholarships.

About applying to MEDPREP

Do I need to take the MCAT or DAT before I apply?
No. These tests are not required for admission to MEDPREP. If you have already completed one or more MCAT or DAT exam, it is required that you self-report these scores on your MEDPREP application. Because ALL official test scores become part of your permanent academic record in applying to medical or dental school, you should not take these tests simply for the purpose of applying to MEDPREP.

How much does it cost to apply?
There is NO FEE to apply to MEDPREP.  We do require official transcripts, so you may need to pay fee(s) to colleges you have attended to obtain your official transcripts. If you are accepted into MEDPREP and decide to matriculate, you will need to pay the application fee to Southern Illinois University in order for your acceptance paperwork to be processed. Students who apply to the optional MPH or MBS programs after MEDPREP entry will have to pay additional graduate school application fees.

My grades from my community college for courses I took during high school and summers show on my university transcript. Do I need an official community college transcript, too?
The registrar’s office of Southern Illinois University Carbondale requires its applicants to submit official transcripts from ALL prior colleges and universities as part of the admissions process, and utilizes a transcript clearinghouse service to ensure applicants have supplied all transcripts. Failure to disclose college coursework or submit all transcripts with your MEDPREP application may delay or invalidate your acceptance into the program.   

Do I need to report all my college coursework, even if I only took just one class somewhere?

MEDPREP requires you to submit all your official college/university transcripts, which will then be submitted to university officials if you are accepted and decide to enter the program. SIUC utilizes a transcript clearinghouse service to ensure applicants have supplied all transcripts. Failure to disclose college coursework or submit all transcripts with your MEDPREP application may delay or invalidate your acceptance into the program.

My college offers electronic transcripts. Can I have them send my transcripts electronically?
Unfortunately, MEDPREP cannot accept electronic transcripts at this time. All transcripts sent must be printed on paper, issued officially by a college/university registrar’s office and mailed to the MEDPREP admissions office.

I have a pre-health professional committee letter on file with my undergraduate school. May I use that instead of two individual letters of recommendation for my MEDPREP application?
MEDPREP gladly accepts pre-health committee/composite letters in lieu of the requirement for two recommendation letters. At least one letter in your composite must be dated within the past year, and a minimum of two individuals must have contributed to your composite letter.

I have been away from college for some time. May I obtain a recommendation from my employer?
MEDPREP does not require academic references because many of our students are returning to school to follow their dream after being away from college for a while. However, recommendations from science faculty, academic advisors, or non-science faculty are very much appreciated by the admissions committee. Other appropriate recommenders might include: a volunteer coordinator, a work supervisor, or a health care professional with whom you have worked/shadowed, or a worker who appreciates your career goals.

Should I send my CV/Resume? Should I send my AMCAS application? Should I send a personal statement?
No. The MEDPREP application contains the same information in a format that is easily read by the committee members. Additional materials will not be considered by the admissions committee.

Should I send copies of articles I have written/co-authored?
No, but you are welcome to list them or refer to them in the short-answer portion of the application.

Is it better to apply to the early cycle or to the main cycle?

All applicants are fully considered for program entry, no matter which cycle you apply to. Early cycle applicants are notified of their acceptance status earlier, which gives more time to decide whether to accept a MEDPREP offer and make arrangements to move to Carbondale and start the program. We particularly encourage early cycle application for students who are out of school; current students who may still be completing prerequisite courses may benefit from including fall grades in the application; for those students, the main cycle may be a better choice.

About MEDPREP Success

Do all MEDPREP students go on to medical or dental school?

While we provide opportunity and support for all students to succeed in their goals, the professional school application process is strenuous and competitive, and not all aspirants are successful. Historically, about 85% of our students who finish the full two years of the program go on to medical or dental school, although some require more than two years to achieve this goal. Typically, 75% of MEDPREP students who apply in any one year are successful in gaining admission into one or more medical/dental school.

What happens to MEDPREP students who do not move directly on to medical or dental school?

Some students apply to medical/dental school after completing their second year of MEDPREP, and thus have an application “glide year” during which they usually work or take more classes. Other students continue their development by furthering their education at other medical school “prematriculation” (direct entry) programs or master degree programs. Some students choose to move into medically-related fields, such as nursing, medical technician, public health, speech pathology, etc. Finally, a small number of students decide that a health profession is not their path and move into non-health related careers. MEDPREP supports each student’s individual journey and aims to help each student make the choices that are best for them.