In a bid to eliminate students’ debt burden, New York University’s School of Medicine has taken the onus of covering full tuition for all current, new, and future medical students – financial condition and academic aptitude notwithstanding.
Owing to the burgeoning cost of tuition, debt-ridden medical graduates are getting drawn more and more towards lucrative specializations, thereby creating a shortage of doctors in areas of research and primary care – a major cause for worry for concerned university officials.
“Eliminating medical school tuition, and thus medical school debt, could help nudge more students to choose much-needed careers in primary care.” –Current @nyuschoolofmed student @emcahan on the positive ripple effects of providing free tuition https://t.co/HyIJAyGLb6
— New York University (@nyuniversity) August 17, 2018
The estimated $600 million scholarship burden on the medical school that comes with the landmark announcement is a small price to pay to address this critical area of concern plaguing the medical profession – thanks to the high cost of tuition and the resultant debt burden.
With a $100 million endowment from Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone and his wife, Elaine, NFU has already managed to raise $450 million – that’s three-fourths of the estimated target achieved.
"The debt can scare people away. One of those individuals could be the one to find a cure for cancer. For us, it's important to have the best applicant pool possible and society deserves nothing less." —@nyulangone's @RafaelRiveraMD https://t.co/qydTTcB8o1
— New York University (@nyuniversity) August 17, 2018
With tuition becoming absolutely free, aspiring doctors will now be encouraged to pursue their medical aspirations absolutely stress-free, at least financially; no outstanding study loans to pressure them into chasing specializations they’d rather avoid if they had the financial freedom.
The announcement, which drew a thunderous applause from students, came on Thursday (August 16) at the medical school’s annual White Coat Ceremony, welcoming new medical students with white lab coats to mark their initiation into their M.D. program.
Current and future students in our MD degree program celebrate after the announcement at White Coat that they'll be receiving full-tuition scholarships. Congratulations! #WhiteCoatCeremony #NYUSOM pic.twitter.com/iJCqJ2cwX9
— NYU School of Med (@nyuschoolofmed) August 16, 2018
“A population as diverse as ours is best served by doctors from all walks of life, we believe, and aspiring physicians and surgeons should not be prevented from pursuing a career in medicine because of the prospect of overwhelming financial debt,” NYU School of Medicine Dean Robert Grossman said in a statement.
To give you an idea of the enormity of the student debt problem, 75 percent of doctors who passed out in 2017 had study debts to pay back, says the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Up by 4 percent from the previous year, the average cost of tuition in private schools in the 2017-2018 school calendar was $59,605, which is as good as taken care of by the $55,018 scholarship cover the NYU is providing with immediate effect to all students – current and new.
AAMA stats also show that the average education debt of doctors currently graduating from private medical schools is over $200,000, a demoralizing burden that leaves aspiring physicians with no option but to go after high-paying specializations.
Many budding doctors who have a passion for research, community-based work, or general practice, even though they don’t pay as much as specialization does, are not able to realize their dreams because they have huge study loans to pay off.
“This decision recognizes a moral imperative that must be addressed, as institutions place an increasing debt burden on young people who aspire to become physicians,” Grossman, who is also the CEO of NYU Langone Health, told the New York Times.
The NYU’s School of Medicine is going a step further by agreeing to refund the current year’s tuition fees already paid by students.
“This is going to be a huge game-changer for us, for our students and for our patients,” Associate Dean for Admission and Financial Aid Dr. Rafael Rivera was quoted by the Wall Street Journal to have said.
While other schools have also done their bit to ease the burden of costly tuition students are saddled with, none comes even close to this latest NFU offering.
Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons announced earlier this year that all students who met the eligibility criteria for financial assistance would study debt-free.
University of California’s David Geffen School of Medicine has proposed to cover in excess of 300 merit-based scholarships from 2012 to 2022
Some reactions on Twitter
Wow, NYU medical school is now tuition free for all students regardless of financial need. https://t.co/N1ToUKdNGo
— Morgan Housel (@morganhousel) August 16, 2018
This is awesome! Kudos to NYU:“We really believe that medical student debt is among the biggest issues our country faces in terms of providing excellent physicians to serve our health care needs,” the dean said. https://t.co/Mz92Obwtcv # via @HuffPostEdu #freetuition #NYU
— Hopeton Smalling (@Hopesmalling) August 17, 2018
— Ruben D. Hiciano C. (@rubenhiciano) August 17, 2018