Education

NYU Just Announced Its Medical School Will Be Tuition Free. But What Will That Really Mean?

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
  • NYU announced Thursday that it will become the first top-ten medical program to give all students full-tuition scholarships
  • The move will require an endowment of at least $600 million, NYU said
  • NYU’s tuition is well above the average public medical school yearly tuition

New York University’s medical school revealed Thursday that it will be tuition free for all current and future students, but experts are warning aspiring doctors that the trend is unlikely to spread to other medical schools, although many already focus on reducing student debt.

To pay the full-tuition scholarships for students in its MD degree program, NYU will have to raise $600 million in endowments to offset the yearly cost of $24 million, reported the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“We have now raised $450 million in gifts, commitments, endowment and spendable tuition toward a $600 million-plus goal,” NYU medical school spokesperson Lisa Greiner told The Daily Caller News Foundation via email.

The school is the “only top-ten ranked medical program” with an across-the-board free tuition policy, reported USA Today.

Going tuition free is infeasible for nearly all other medical colleges who rely on tuition revenue.

“It would sound great, but it wouldn’t be socially beneficial,” said Sandy Baum, a fellow in the Education Policy Program at the Urban Institute, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Baum also raised doubts about NYU’s ability to raise enough money to keep the full-tuition scholarships going long-term.

Robert Kelchen, author of the book “Higher Education Accountability,” echoed Baum’s sentiment about other medical schools’ ability to recreate NYU’s full-tuition scholarships.

“If enough money drops out of a helicopter, they can,” Kelchen said according to the Chronicle of Higher Eduction.

Tuition at NYU’s school of medicine costs $55,018 annually, compared to the average annual in-state tuition of $34,699 for public medical schools. NYU says it is making the change for two reasons: to have a more socioeconomically diverse student body and to matriculate students with substantially less debt so they have more freedom to choose career paths after medical school.

“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 medical school dean Dr. Robert Grossman said in a statement Thursday.

Reducing medical student debt is a big deal in the physician community. Seventy-five percent of medical students graduate with education-related debt, according to a 2017 Association of American Medical Colleges report. And the average amount of debt for indebted medical students is six figures: $190,694.

That debt can cause new physicians to choose high-paid specialties like dermatology and urology rather than fields that serve more of the population but offer less pay, reported the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Education-related debt can also cause physicians stress, leading to burnout or even thoughts of suicide. (RELATED: Physician Suicide Is Double The General Population’s Average. The Medical Community Is Trying To Fix That)

That is why multiple medical schools are working to minimize student debt. Another prestigious medical school, the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, declared in April that it will replace all student loans with scholarships for students who need financial aid. Columbia’s medical college will also give 20 percent of its most financially disadvantaged students full-tuition scholarships, reported USA Today.

In addition, the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, part of Case Western Reserve University’s medical program, has given free tuition to all students since 2008. Its curriculum trains physicians to pursue scientific research.

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