If you are considering studying to become a physical therapist then one of the factors that you will need to take into consideration are the Physical Therapy Tuition fees that you are going to have to pay in order to obtain your qualification. Becoming a physical therapist is a very rewarding career and will bring you great satisfaction down the road, so if this is your chosen career do not let the cost of the tuition stop you from following your chosen career path.
Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who assess and treat patients who have mobility problems. In order to become a physical therapist you need to do a DPT program or a physical therapy-based master’s degree program.
Although there are currently the two different degrees for physical therapy, there has recently been a move towards the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, but with this has come increased tuition costs. Virtually all physical therapist education programs now offer the DPT, and by December 2015, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), which is the body that accredits entry-level physical therapist education programs, will require the DPT as the degree to complete an entry level physical therapist education program.
What Does It Take To Become A Physical Therapist?
In order to become a physical therapist you will need to be willing to study for quite a few years. There are various steps that you will need to go through before you can practice:
Most physical therapy programs require you to have completed your undergraduate degree in order to be accepted into the program. Some, however, according to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, will allow you to enroll once you have completed three years of undergrad studies at a university.
Once you have completed your DPT or Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy you will need to pass the national examination in order to gain licensure in the state in which you intend to practice. In order to sit for the licensure exam you need to have graduated from a program that is accredited by CAPTE.
The duration of various programs differs depending on the number of general education courses, and this of course affects the Physical Therapy Tuition costs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Master’s degree programs tend to take two years and the DPT program generally takes three years to complete.
As far as Physical Therapy Tuition costs go, it is difficult to give you a basic cost as the programs differ so greatly, depending on the school you choose, the state in which you complete your studies, and the type and length of the program.
The Current Costs Of Physical Therapy Tuition
Although it is very difficult to gauge the exact costs of Tuition for previously-mentioned reasons, according to the information on physical therapist education programs that is gathered annually from various sources by CAPTE, the mean total cost of the professional Physical Therapy Tuition program, including tuition, fees, and various other required expenses such as texts, lab fees, and insurance for the 2009-2010 was as follows:
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When we look at 2011-2012 prices, remembering that these costs differ greatly from institution to institution and state to state, and also depend on the length of the program and what courses are included. The current Physical Therapy Tuition costs will run you anything between $13,000 and $42,000. These estimates exclude extra costs such as lab fees, housing, meal plan, and insurance, which could add up to another $5,000. In addition to those costs, you will need to make provision for the post-graduation costs such as the National Physical Therapy Exam and your State licensing tests. The NPTE is nationally fixed at $370 but cost of the two state licensing exams varies from State to State.
Remember that due to the nature of the studies, there may also be other additional course fees such as fees for the costs of chemicals, supplies and materials, International Student Fees and Late Payment Fees that apply.
All healthcare students must have insurance, and the university generally bills the students directly for membership of the University Health Insurance plan at the beginning of each semester. A student that already has his or her own health insurance coverage may apply for a waiver. International students are required by law to be enrolled in and billed for the International Student Health Insurance Plan.
Here is a reasonable estimate of what studying for your Doctor of Physical Therapy, a 33 month program, would cost you if you were a single student living in Seattle:
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Physical Therapy Tuition costs generally go up by between 5%-10% each fall, so you need to take that into consideration to when planning your studies, remembering that the Master’s will take you two years to complete and the Doctorate will take three years.
Financing Your Physical Therapy Tuition
As is patently obvious from the above figures, studying for your physical therapy degree is not cheap. This means that unless you have loose cash you will probably have to find some way of financing your studies.
This can be done in a variety of ways:
Many students find themselves in the unenviable position of having to take out loans to cover their Physical Therapy Tuition costs, but with education cost rising every year and the move to the Doctorate for all physical therapists, studying it becoming really difficult for those who do not have the funding.
Medical educators are worried about these rising costs and are continuously looking at various approaches to lowering student debt assisting physical therapy and other medical students with managing their debt. The Medical Student Society (MSS) are focused on controlling tuition, adjusting student loans, and increasing loan repayment programs. TO this end educators and the medical profession are continuously campaigning for debt forgiveness programs, increased scholarship funding, and adjustments to loan repayment programs.
Scholarships, Bursaries And Grants
This is funding that is merit-based or situation-based and does not require repayment. Scholarships are easier to get than either grants or bursaries, and are offered by more institutions. Scholarships are primarily granted and/or awarded by the following institutions:
- Colleges and Universities
- Federal, State and Municipal government bodies
It is recommended that you apply for various scholarships in order to increase your chances of receiving one.
In order to apply for financial aid you will need to complete a Fee Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the end of January of the year of application for entry into a program. You can access the application by going to their website, http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. This is a free application and it will give you information about any national, state and federal financial assistance you may be eligible for, such as:
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Work Study
- Federal Perkins Loans
- Federal Stafford Loans
There are also many state-based scholarship programs offered to help with Physical Therapy Tuition costs. These scholarships are generally based on financial need, academic achievement and minority status. These types of scholarships generally have certain criteria attached to them, such as the fact that you may have to maintain a certain grade average.
There are also various scholarships and grants provided by other foundations and organizations, including the following organizations who offer provide aid specifically for physical therapy students:
- The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
- The Texas Physical Therapy Association
- The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions
- The Tylenol Scholarship Fund
- The International Order of Kings Daughters and Sons
- The Hawaii Community Foundation
Students in Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming may be eligible for WICHE funds from their state. The application deadline is prior to October 15 of the year before admission. You can contact your state office for more information or access the WICHE website at www.wiche.edu to find out more.
Salary And Job Outlook
Although the Physical Therapy Tuition costs are somewhat on the high side, job prospects are very good and physical therapy jobs are forecast to increase 27 percent from 2006 to 2016.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the media annual income of a physical therapist in 2010 was $76,310, with the best paid earning $107,920, whilst the lowest paid made approximately $53,620. Physical therapy assistants earn in the region of $34,735 when they first begin to practice. The highest wages are found in hospitals or physician offices, and the highest paid positions by location are to be found in the metropolitan areas of Fairbanks, Arkansas, Madera, California, and McAllen, Texas.
Being part of the medical fraternity also brings many benefits which, when added to the physical therapy assistant’s salary add up to quite a bit. Here is an example of a typical physical therapy wage package:
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There are currently somewhere in the region of 185,500 physiotherapists in the US and this figure is expected to rise by 56, 000 over the next decade. The highest concentration of physiotherapists can be found in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.