New York University is offering free tuition for all of its medical students.
The move, which makes NYU School of Medicine the only top-10 ranked medical school in the nation to do so, was announced as a surprise ending to the annual White Coat Ceremony Thursday morning, where each new student is presented with a white lab coat to mark the start of their medical eduation and training.
"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," says Kenneth G. Langone, chair of the Board of Trustees of NYU Langone Health.
About 62 percent of NYU’s School of Medicine graduates leave with some debt, the New York Times reports. The average debt incurred by members of the class of 2017 was $184,000.
Rising tuition and six-figure loans have been pushing new doctors into higher-paying fields and contributing to a shortage of researchers and primary care physicians.
The associate dean for admissions and financial aid, Dr. Rafael Rivera, says there's a "moral imperative" to reduce debt.
Tuition had been set at about $55,000 for the coming year.
Most medical students will still need to pay about $29,000 for annual room and board and other living expenses.
NYU estimates it will need about $600 million to fund the tuition package in perpetuity. It has raised more than $450 million.
Last December, Columbia University announced a $250 million gift from alumnus Dr. P. Roy Vaeglos offering students with greatest financial need full-tuition scholarships, and other students grants, according to the Times.