A residency for internal medicine is three years. A specialty such as cardiology or nephrology can be another two to four years while neurosurgery is typically a total of seven.
David Lin, an anesthesiology resident at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., owes about $325,000. Because of accrued interest, the figure has risen 25 percent since he graduated from Chicago Medical School two years ago. He makes payments of about $450 per month.
"I'm barely touching the principal at all," said Lin, 30, who had no debt from his undergraduate years at the University of California, Berkeley.
Black medical-school graduates from 2012 reported the highest median debt, $184,125. Blacks and students from Puerto Rico had the lowest median parental income.
Low-income students may shy away from entering medical school, said Ami Bera, a Democratic congressman from California and one of 20 physicians in Congress. Bera served as a dean of admissions at the medical school at University of California, Davis.
"You probably are pricing out a whole segment of lower- income kids that have the ability and the intellect to succeed," said Bera, who left medical school at the University of California, Irvine, with less than $10,000 in loans in 1991.
LeAnne Roberts, a black fourth-year student at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, said she would have a hard time recommending medical school to the low- income high-school students she tutors in Newark.
"They have these goals of wanting to become a physician, and I'm almost not making it," said Roberts, 27, who grew up in Sacramento and whose parents are retired schoolteachers. "I don't want to sell them a false dream. All of these things are attainable, but it's very difficult to pay for."
Grants rarely cover the entire cost of attending medical school, and there are very few "full-ride" scholarships available, according to the AAMC report. Billionaire entertainment executive David Geffen endowed a full scholarship for as many as 33 students a year at the University of California, Los Angeles, medical school for $100 million in December. They are based on merit.