NYU School of Medicine on Thursday announced it will cover the full cost of tuition for all its current and future medical students, regardless of merit or financial need.
The announcement comes as health care professionals are seeing significant increases in tuition and student loan interest rates, in some instances resulting in six-figure debt, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to the Journal, tuition for the upcoming academic year had been set at $55,018. The Journal reports 62% of NYU School of Medicine's most recent graduating class had an average of $171,908 student loan debt for medical school and $184,000 in overall student loan debt.
NYU is the first among major U.S. medical schools to offer its students full-tuition scholarships, according to the Journal. Other institutions, including Columbia University and the University of California, Los Angeles, have launched initiatives to reduce the financial burden of medical school. For example, Columbia's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons earlier this year announced it would eliminate student loans for those who are eligible for financial aid.
NYU School of Medicine's full-tuition scholarship
NYU School of Medicine will offer the full-tuition scholarships to its 350 returning students who are partway through their MD-only degree programs and to 93 first-year students, according to the Journal.
Rafael Rivera, the school's associate dean for admission and financial aid, said the university plans to refund any out-of-pocket payments and return loans taken out for the upcoming school year.
To date, NYU School of Medicine has raised more than $450 million of the nearly $600 million the institution estimates it will need to fund tuition packages for medical students in perpetuity, according to the Journal.
While the institution will offer full-tuition scholarships, medical students will still be responsible for other expenses, such as books, room, and board. Most students will have to pay about $29,000 in annual expenses, according to the Journal.
Through the scholarships, NYU School of Medicine aims to address the financial barriers that can deter medical students from choosing lower-paying specialties, such as pediatrics and primary care, or discourage high school and college students from pursuing careers in medicine.
Robert Grossman, the dean of NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU Langone Health, said, "This gives our students choice in two ways: First it will enable students who couldn't afford medical school to afford it, and the second thing it does is enable students enrolled in medical school to think with a clear eye (about their future specialty)." School officials said they hope the full-tuition scholarships will help the institution attract a more diverse pool of students.
Rivera said, "This is going to be a huge game-changer for us, for our students and for our patients." Rivera added, "There's really a moral imperative to reduce the amount of debt people have" (Korn, Wall Street Journal, 8/16; Castellucci, Modern Healthcare, 8/16; Folley, The Hill, 8/16; Shannon, USA Today, 8/16; NYU Langone Health release, 8/16).
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