On Monday, Weill Cornell University Medical College announced it is now offering debt-free education.
Students who qualify for financial aid and are currently enrolled in the medical college will receive scholarships to replace their loans for the upcoming academic year and every year until they graduate.
“This bold initiative to eliminate medical education student debt ensures that every student who wishes to become a doctor can do so—for their betterment and for the patients they serve,” said Martha E. Pollack, president of Cornell University, in a statement.
“By investing in our medical students, we impart a lasting, positive effect on the healthcare landscape across the country.”
More than half of Weill Cornell Medicine’s medical students have received some form of financial aid to pay for schooling, which costs an average of $90,000 a year, according to the university.
Under the new financial aid program, all medical students who qualify for aid will have their tuition, books, housing, food, and related expenses covered by scholarships.
Dual M.D. and Ph.D. students will have expenses covered under a separate program.
“Together, these two programs will now enable two-thirds of Weill Cornell Medicine’s medical student body to graduate without debt,” the university says.
The scholarships have been made possible through $160 million in donations from the Starr Foundation. To continue the program indefinitely, the school will need an additional $50 million but medical school Dean Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi told The New York Times he is “very confident” that funding will come through.
According to data from the American Association of Medical Colleges, the average annual cost of medical school in the U.S. is more than $80,000 and the national average student debt of $180,000 upon graduation.