Cornell University will cover tuition costs for med students eligible for financial aid

Kimberly Dole
September 16, 2019 - 12:22 pm

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The medical school at Cornell University announced on Monday that all students who qualify for financial aid would be able to attend for free beginning with the current academic year.

Since 2013, medical school tuition has increased by 21%, and the average student debt upon graduation is nearly $180,000 but the institution announced a new transformative scholarship program that will eliminate medical education debt for all students who qualify for financial aid.

Eligible students at the Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, will have their tuition including housing, food, books and educational expenses covered by scholarships making it the latest of several medical schools that have recently announced aggressive aid programs intended to cut down or eliminate the cost of attendance.

The program ensures that all students, including those from economically diverse backgrounds, can pursue their medical education without financial burden by replacing student loans with scholarships.

It aims to empower students to ultimately focus their careers on their interests and talents, rather than the requisite future salaries to repay their loans.

The new financial aid program was made possible through a lead gift from The Starr Foundation, directed by Weill Cornell Medicine Overseer Maurice R. Greenberg, in partnership with gifts from Joan and Board of Overseers Chairman Emeritus Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation and other generous donors that bought the total to $160 million.

“Student debt has been in the national discussion for a long time and we have been planning, strategizing and raising money,” said Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and provost for medical affairs at Cornell University. “It’s the right time to offer debt-free medical education.”

Of Weill Cornell’s 373 students, 52 percent qualify for need-based aid. A single year at the school costs more than $90,000, and the average debt for a graduate of the program in 2018 was $156,851 according to Weill Cornell.

Students learned of the surprise gift on Monday morning at a campus event. September was the natural time for such an announcement, said Jessica M. Bibliowicz, chairman of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers.

“We want those first-year students to know that this is what is going to happen as they go through their medical studies,” Ms. Bibliowicz said. “They can make the kind of choices they want to make in their medical career.”

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