All medical students at New York University will now be able to attend tuition-free - a major first for a highly ranked medical school as it aims to eliminate the burden of crippling student debt for its students.
By taking tuition costs off the table, NYU Associate Dean of Admissions Rafael Rivera said he hopes to level the playing field for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Medical schools nationwide have been conducting aggressive fundraising campaigns to compete for top prospects, alleviate the debt burden and give graduates more career choices. Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone, whose name adorns the health system affiliated with the medical school, contributed $100 million.
Additionally, students who are not saddled with six-figure debt after graduation can pursue fields that may not be as high-paying but still important, such as pediatrics and obstetrics, NYU said in a press release.
NYU said the move was to address the rising costs of medical education and still attract the best and brightest students to careers in medicine. It has raised more than $450 million.
School officials said they have been working towards making the scholarship a reality for 11 years.
The stunning announcement was made Thursday morning at the end of the annual "White Coat Ceremony", where new medical students are given white lab coats to mark the start of their M.D. degree program.
The goal is to allow aspiring physicians "from all walks of life" pursue their passion with less stress, according to Dr. Robert Grossman, dean of NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU Langone Health. Those range from around $27,000 to $29,000 per year, according to the medical school.
A study produced by the Association of American Medical Colleges estimated that in 2017 75% of medical students graduated in debt. NYU students can choose between the traditional four-year MD program or an accelerated three-year degree.
Students must still however cover the cost of living expenses and accommodation.
Those 93 students will benefit from the scholarship, along with 350 others enrolled further along in the program. Among those with debt, the average student owed almost $191,000, which rises to $202,000 among private medical school graduates.