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New York University announces FREE tuition fees for medical students

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Staff at New York University (NYU) have announced the launch of an initiative to make tuition completely free for current and future medical students.

The scheme will cover the annual tuition costs for a training physician enrolled in NYU’s medical programmes, which is a whopping $55,018 (£43,000). 

Although it does not cover living costs, the plan will eliminate the burden of tuition fee debt, something which in 2017 amounted to an average of $184,000 (£144,000) for NYU medical school graduates.

The initiative was announced at the NYU White Coat Ceremony last week, an event which welcomes incoming students to the university.

NYU have cited the potential for increased educational accessibility for low-income households as one of the primary reasons for the change. They also say the abolition of tuition debt means graduates are more likely to pursue fields they are genuinely interested in, rather than choosing disciplines specifically based on the earnings they will make.

Dean of the medical school, Robert Grossman, said: “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.

“A population as diverse as ours is best served by doctors from all walks of life, we believe, and aspiring physicians and surgeons should not be prevented from pursuing a career in medicine because of the prospect of overwhelming financial debt”.

Despite the positive prospects this scheme has, doubts have been raised over the ability of the university to fund the initiative indefinitely. Sandy Baum, a fellow in Education Policy at Washington DC’s Urban Institute, said: “It’s hard to fathom how you go from charging this high price to zero”.

Nonetheless, the school has so far raised $450m (£352m) of a targeted $600m (£469m) to fund the tuition fee elimination plan long term. This funding target, if reached, should sustain the initiative for 25 years, as the scheme is due to cost an annual $24m ($19m).

If successful, NYU will become the only elite university in the U.S which offers free tuition. Other schools have run similar programmes, such as UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine which provides merit-based scholarships covering tuition and living costs to around 20% of its students, however, none have provided entirely free courses. 

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