NYU’s new class of medical students got more than just a white coat this morning during the school’s annual White Coat Ceremony. In a surprise announcement, NYU revealed it would foot tuition–about $55,000 per year–for all medical students going forward.
“This decision recognizes a moral imperative that must be addressed, as institutions place an increasing debt burden on young people who aspire to become physicians,” Robert Grossman, the dean of the medical school, said in a statement.
About 62% of NYU’s medical students reportedly graduate with debt; for 2017 graduates, that debt came to $184,000 on average. The school claims that as the burden of student debt steers medical graduates into more lucrative specialties, fewer students are pursuing, say, primary care or obstetrics and gynecology, which don’t pay as well. And some aspiring doctors may abandon the career path altogether, or not even consider medicine in the first place.
Few medical schools have managed to cover tuition for a wide swath of students. While it must be easier for a moneyed institution like NYU to offer full-tuition scholarships, it is reportedly the first school of its caliber to do so (according to NYU, that is). The school has already raised $450 million and estimates it will take $600 million in total to cover tuition for current and future students.
Now the onus is on NYU to ensure that money goes to a diverse group of students–an important consideration with the school’s low admission rate. In 2017, 119 students matriculated from the medical school, which receives well over 7,000 applications a year. One thing is for certain: It just became even harder to get into NYU.