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NYU medical school free tuition reactions by medical schools



New York University NYU Students Graduation CommencementAndrew Burton/Getty Images

  • NYU’s announcement that it will make medical school
    tuition free has other top schools across the country grappling
    with how they can stay competitive to land top
  • Business Insider spoke with several private, top-ranked
    medical schools to gauge their reaction to NYU’s
  •  But barring a large gift and mandate from a donor
    to provide medical school tuition-free — as was the thrust of
    NYU’s program — most med schools have to find other ways to
    keep education costs down. 

Tuition-free medical school is becoming less of a pipe dream and
more of a reality for future medical students. 

New York University
made a bold move
in August
 when it said it
would offer free tuition to current and future medical students.

The university hopes the decision will alleviate the financial
barriers that discourage many promising high school and college
students from considering a career in medicine due to concerns
with high medical school costs. The effort was funded over 11
years in which NYU raised $600 million including a $100
million gift from billionaire Kenneth Langone and his wife

The promise of a tuition-free education will likely give NYU an
even more talented pool of applicants vying for that benefit. As
medical schools across the country look to attract the best and
the brightest, NYU’s announcement to go tuition-free is a
game-changer. Now more than ever, medical schools will have to
figure out ways to compete and differentiate themselves.

But barring a large gift and mandate from a donor to provide
medical school tuition-free — as was the thrust of NYU’s program
— schools have to find other ways to keep education costs

We reached out to the top 20 medical schools (of which NYU is
one), as ranked by
US News and World Report
to get their reaction to the news
and whether we could expect to one day see other schools follow
suit. All of the medical schools that Business Insider spoke with
were private universities, and all offer a mix of need and
merit-based scholarships to their medical school classes. 

Greys Anatomy Season 5 Episode 18 4 f582Courtesy of Disney–ABC Domestic

For the most part, the medical schools met the NYU announcement
with excitement and congratulations. 

“I think it’s great. One could even say it’s like when
Roger Bannister
broke the four-minute mile,” Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine vice dean for education
and professor of medicine 
Dr. Roy Ziegelstein told
Business Insider. 

“All of us in medical education see this as a good thing,” he
said. “I don’t think there are any schools in the country that
don’t grapple with the cost of attendance.” 

Providing a tuition free medical education has been Ziegelstein’s
priority for some time but until that happens, Johns Hopkins has
been trying to increase the appeal and affordability of their
programs through offerings of need-based and merit-based

Vanderbilt Medical School told Business Insider that 70% of its
students receive some form of scholarship and almost half
graduate with no debt. “We are actively exploring ways of
covering more need, as calculated by federal aid
applications,” Vanderbilt said in an email.

Dr. Valerie Ratts, an
associate dean for admissions at Washington University School of
Medicine in St. Louis, said the school isn’t making any quick
decisions, even in the wake of NYU’s announcement. 

“We’re carefully
considering how to best spend our money,” Ratts

For many, that means increasing the amount of financial aid for
students who need it the most. 

“We aim to partner with visionary philanthropists who can help us
provide more robust scholarship support to every student with
financial need and are working to lower and, ultimately, to
eliminate student debt, giving our graduates the flexibility to
pursue the medical field of their choice,” Harvard Medical
School said in a statement. 


NYU is offering free tuition to its medical students to fix one
of the biggest problems in healthcare – but not everyone is
convinced it’ll work

Many medical schools are trying to find ways to make sure its
students don’t live with debt after graduation.

In 2016, former Merck chairman Dr. P. Roy
Vagelos and his wife, Diana, gave Columbia’s medical school $250
million toward
a debt-free program
. The new scholarship program will allow
approximately 20% of students to receive scholarships covering
their entire tuition. It also provide grants for approximately
half of students body that qualify for financial aid, which means
they don’t have to take out loans. 

“Benefactor funding to increase scholarship endowments and
eliminate medical student debt is an investment that can
significantly impact the future of patient care,” Dr.
Fredric Meyer, the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine’s executive
dean for education, said in an email. 

Medical illustratorTaylor Wiedman/Getty Images

Some schools agreed that education debt is a critical issue, but
they weren’t sure that a tuition free offering is the best way to
incentivize students to go into medicine. 

“I’m not sure if you
had a gift that it’s the best way to spend it going forward,”
Duke University School of Medicine vice dean for education Dr.
Edward Buckley told Business Insider.

His argument: There are
other ways to spend the funding from a large gift, such as
cutting-edge medical technology that can be used to train

Dr. Neil Gesundheit, the senior associate dean for medical
education at Stanford School of Medicine told Business
Insider that he hopes to subsidize more students’ tuition and
living expenses. He said he does expect to see other schools
follow suit with tuition-free medical programs, though he
expressed concern about how this might impact state schools that
might not be able to promise the free tuition private
institutions — and their donor pools — have made accessible.

“I worry about medical schools that are strong training programs
but aren’t well supported by philanthropy,” he said. 

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