The NYU School of Medicine announced on August 16 that it would begin offering current and future students full-tuition scholarships.

The NYU School of Medicine announced Aug. 16 it would begin offering current and future students full-tuition scholarships. It costs $55,018 a year to be a full-time student at NYU School of Medicine. The school said in an announcement that by offering free tuition, it intends to address the problem of student loan debt while also continuing to attract the best medical students to its program.

Student loan debt has dramatically reshaped the medical community. Medical students usually end up graduating with staggering amounts of student loan debt. This forces many graduates into higher-paying fields so they can afford to pay back their student loans. And the financial burden alone discourages many young adults from pursuing medicine as a career.

In 2017, 75 percent of U.S. doctors graduated with student loan debt. The average amount of debt for a medical graduate is $202,000. However, for doctors that graduate from private medical schools, that figure can top $300,000 – which can be a struggle to repay even with a higher salary.

This isn’t the first time NYU School of Medicine has taken steps to make medicine a more widely accessible career path. In 2013, the school began offering an accelerated three-year curriculum. This allows physicians to graduate sooner and enter their fields more quickly with less debt.

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Steven B. Abramson, MD said in the announcement that the accelerated three-year curriculum was an important first step but it didn’t do enough. Abramson, who serves as the dean for education, faculty, and academic affairs, said that offering free tuition is the next step in the school’s effort to change the future of medicine.

The faculty at the NYU School of Medicine hopes this decision will incentivize other medical schools to follow in their steps. This is the first time a top 10-ranking medical school has offered its students free tuition scholarships.

However, other medical schools across the U.S. have implemented similar programs. For example, all students at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine have received free tuition since 2008, according to USA Today.

And the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine actually pays its medical students a yearly salary. During the previous school year, all students earned at least $60,000 per year for committing to serving for seven years in the armed forces after graduation.