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.
Thursday's announcement came as a surprise ending to the school's annual white coat ceremony, which marks the start of first-year students' medical careers.
Dr. Rafael Rivera, associate dean for admissions and financial aid, said the program goes further than other forms of financial aid, which require students to apply before finding out about their support.
"We fully expect that this will positively impact the diversity of our medical school class", Rivera said.
NYU has raised more than $450 million of the roughly $600 million it needs to fund the tuition package in perpetuity, including a $100 million donation from Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone and his wife, Elaine, The Journal said. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, which this year amounts to $55,018.
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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.
The newspaper said most medical students will still need to pay for their room, board and living expenses, which it estimated at about $29,000 year.
New York University's School of Medicine announces it is offering full-tuition scholarships to all current and future students in its MD degree program, regardless of need or merit, August 16, 2018. -Ph.D program have already had their tuition costs covered by the National Institutes of Health.
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.
Seventy-two percent of graduates from medical school in 2017 graduated with a median of $180,000 in debt, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges cited by the university. More than one-third of medical students also have student loans from prior academic programs.