Addressing the affordability issue could help alleviate physician shortages, said Rafael Rivera, associate dean for admissions and financial aid.
NYU said it is the only top 10-ranked medical school in the USA to offer such an initiative.
In December, Columbia University received a $250 million gift from Dr. Roy Vagelos and Diana Vagelos, of which $150 million created an endowment that will cover the tuition for medical students who are deemed to have financial need at the renamed Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. NYU students can choose between the traditional four-year MD program or an accelerated three-year degree.
Nationally, 72 percent of graduates from the class of 2018 had debt from medical school, with a median of $195,000 in loans, according to student surveys by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The university added that medical school debt is "reshaping the medical profession", encouraging graduates to choose more lucrative specializations to pay off their educational debt rather than choose primary care. Medical schools have tackled medical school debt in other ways.
Students would still be on the hook for other costs related to their attendance, such as room and board, fees, health insurance, licensing exam charges. In the most recent application cycle, only 18 percent of matriculating medical students were African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, or native Alaskans, even though they make up almost 33 percent of the US population. NYU now has 442 medical students and each incoming class has about 100 students. NYU leaders also hope the fund will enable the school to attract more diverse candidates who won't be deterred from pursuing a career in medicine because of debt. That is partly propelled by the fact that almost half of third- and fourth-year students say that their choice in medical specialty is influenced by projected income-or by debt burden. "The burden of debt, that is very hard to get your head above, frankly, and that colors decisions in terms of career choice", Grossman said.
The free-tuition initiative began more than a decade ago when NYU created an endowment for that goal.
Rivera said the daunting prospect of financial debt has an "adverse effect on patient care" by "scaring away" talented students from a career in medicine and, in effect, causing physician shortages and a lack of diversity.