Citing concerns about the increasingly steep debt faced by graduates, New York University will grant full scholarships to all current and future students studying within the School of Medicine.
The unexpected decision—announced during the annual "White Coat Ceremony" on Thursday—will mean free tuition for all students, regardless of merit or financial need. NYU says it will be the first top 10-ranked medical school in the nation to offer the full scholarships.
"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 I. Grossman, dean of the medical school and chief executive officer of N.Y.U. Langone Health, said in a statement.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median cost of receiving a medical education at a private school is $59,605, and a graduating student's average current debt is $202,000. (Tuition at NYU's medical school was set at $55,018 for the coming year.)
— NYU School of Med (@nyuschoolofmed) August 16, 2018
The announcement comes amid a growing movement to make New York's universities—medical and otherwise—more affordable. Last December, Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons said that it would be eliminating student debt, and offering full scholarships to students in financial need.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced a plan last year to eliminate tuition for hundreds of thousands of public four-year and community college students across the state. But critics say that plan is riddled with loopholes, and a new report found that only 3 percent of public college students are taking advantage of the scholarship.
NYU said on Thursday that it hopes other institutions will follow in its path, as it pursues "a full retrofitting of the pipeline that trains and finances" future doctors.
The scholarships were made possible by $450 million worth of grants, including $100 million contribution from Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone, who chairs the medical school's board of trustees.
"Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our trustees, alumni, and friends, our hope—and expectation—is that by making medical school accessible to a broader range of applicants, we will be a catalyst for transforming medical education nationwide," said Langone.