New York University announced Thursday that it would cover all tuition costs for all of its students attending medical school regardless of their ability to pay.
School officials made the announcement at the end of NYU School of Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony for first-year medical students on Thursday, notifying students and family members that it would cover the costs of tuition for 102 first-year students and 350 continuing students who have already completed some of their medical education.
NYU, which is ranked number three among the best medical schools for research on U.S. News and World Report, is the first among the country’s top medical schools to offer this option as it attempts to lessen the debt burden of recent graduates and to address the shortage of physicians in lower-paying specialties, such as primary care and research.
Medical school officials are concerned that the rising costs of tuition and skyrocketing student loan amounts are either discouraging potential doctors from going into medicine or pushing recent medical school graduates to go into more lucrative fields of medicine at the expense of lower-paying fields, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The number of doctors graduating with student debt remains high, with 75 percent of doctors graduating with debt in 2017, according to an October 2017 survey from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Medical schools across the U.S. have attempted to respond to the student debt crisis by increasing their fundraising efforts to recruit competitive applicants, reduce student debt, and give graduates more flexibility with their career paths.
NYU already raised $450 million of the estimated $600 million needed to fund the school-wide full-tuition scholarships, including a $100 million donation from Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone and his wife, Elaine. The estimated yearly tuition costs for each student covered by the scholarship are $55,018, according to the school.
“This is going to be a huge game-changer for us, for our students and for our patients,” said Dr. Rafael Rivera, associate dean for admission and financial aid.
The school will also refund current students who made out-of-pocket tuition payments for the 2018-2019 school year and return loan payments to students who may have taken out student loans.