December 30, 2019

Can You Get a Full Ride to Medical School?

Can You Get a Full Ride to Medical School?

By: Ryan Kelly

As we’ve said in past articles, the idea of a “full ride” to medical school can be misleading. We were even audacious enough to argue that NYU’s tuition waiver isn’t that good of a deal, due to the immense cost of living in Manhattan and various fees/expenses beyond standard tuition.

Medical school is expensive, especially for those without any outside financial support. The AAMC reported that the average yearly tuition for medical school (tuition, fees, health insurance) was $34,592 for in-state students and $58,668 for out-of-state. Over four years, that’s $138,368 and $226,672, respectively.

In 2018 the average debt for a medical school graduate was $192,000. That’s depressing, but what’s more depressing is that the vast majority of doctors come from wealthy families.

According to data collected by the AAMC, the majority of medical students have parents with graduate degrees, and that the median family income of matriculating students is $100,000. The median family income at the time of the report was $48,451. Most medical students come from the top two quintiles of income, meaning they’re some of the most privileged members of society.

Despite this obvious inequity, there are some ways that the 99% can subsidize their medical education.

Ways to Get a “Full Ride” to Medical School

The Small Subsidies

These scholarships alone will not achieve a full ride, but they can make some significant dents along the way.

Physicians of Tomorrow Awards

The American Medical Association Foundation awards $10,000 to 10 medical students during their third year of medical school. The school dean must nominate students. One scholarship awards applicants with an interest in women’s health. There are also awards for minority students.

Diverse Medical Scholars Program

The program awards $7,000 to 30 medical students every year. The scholarships are renewable, so winners can receive funds for several years. Winners volunteer for 200 service hours and create a presentation detailing their experience. Students must be African-American, Latino, Native American, or Asian-American.

Tylenol Future Care Scholarship

This scholarship awards $10,000 to 10 students and $5,000 to 30 students. Applicants must be pursuing a career in patient care.

Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarships

The AAMC awards a $5,000 scholarship to five medical students in their third year of medical school. Applicants must show a commitment to making medical education more accessible for minorities. They must be nominated by their medical school.

There are a ton of other small scholarships based on region, ethnicity, income, etc.

The Large Subsidies

These are programs (either by school or organization) that will cover/waive your medical school tuition/fees.

Many of these scholarships are prestigious and competitive. Students hoping to win a medical school scholarship need to study hard and keep their grades up.

National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

This program pays for two years of medical school tuition and fees. It also offers a living stipend while in school. Some of the funds are tax free. In exchange, winners of must work in an underserved area for two to four years after residency. This depends on the number of years they receive financial aid.

NYU School of Medicine

NYU offers full-tuition scholarships to all current students and future matriculated students in its MD degree program, regardless of merit or financial need, provided each student maintains satisfactory academic progress.

Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine

Kaiser will waive all tuition and fees for classes entering in the fall of 2020 through 2024. This waiver will be available for each class for all four years of enrollment.

Perelman School of Medicine Scholarships

The University of Pennsylvania’s medical school awards 25 full tuition scholarships every year. All students accepted into the program are considered.

David Geffen Medical Scholarship

Students at UCLA can win four years of financial aid. The scholarship covers 100% of the four-year cost of attendance. This includes tuition, room and board, books, and supplies. All applicants are automatically considered for this merit-based scholarship.

Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP)

If you have served time in the armed forces, you can get your tuition and fees covered. You will also get a living stipend. To be eligible, you need to serve one year of active duty for every year of your scholarship. There is a three-year minimum.

F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine

This medical school’s students are all commissioned officers in the U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army or U.S. Navy. They earn an annual salary of more than $60,000 per year during their four years of medical school. They must commit to at least seven years of active-duty service after graduation.

Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine

The Lerner College of Medicine’s students get their entire tuition covered.

Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

In April 2018, Columbia launched a scholarship program that will replace student loans with scholarships for all students who qualify for financial aid.

Cornell University School of Medicine

In September 2019, Cornell announced that a new scholarship will eliminate medical education debt for all students who qualify for financial aid (thanks to donations totaling $160 million). Weill, the medical school, plans to replace student loans with scholarships that cover tuition, housing, and other living expenses for qualifying current and future students.

As a bonus, here are the top five public medical schools that offer the most financial aid and scholarships:

1. University of Central Florida College of Medicine

100% of students receive scholarships

100% of students receive financial aid

69% of students receive loans

Average indebtedness: $13,902

2. University of California, Davis, School of Medicine

95% of students receive scholarships

95% of students receive financial aid

89% of students receive loans

Average indebtedness: $146,756

3. David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

94% of students receive scholarships

95% of students receive financial aid

77% of students receive loans

Average indebtedness: $107,549

4. University of Kansas School of Medicine

94% of students receive scholarships

97% of students receive financial aid

83% of students receive loans

Average indebtedness: $134,999

5. University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine

90% of students receive scholarships

98% of students receive financial aid

83% of students receive loans

Average indebtedness: $142,043

Why It’s Difficult for Medical Schools to Offer a “Full Ride”

In the aftermath of NYU’s announcement, other institutions are feeling the pressure.

But how realistic is abolishing tuition for most medical schools?

Only 20 medical schools (23%) were in an equal or better financial position than NYU to begin contemplating such a shift. Familiar names such as Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Harvard, and Yale hold membership in this exclusive club, which includes 15 of the top 20 research institutions.

It took NYU 11 years to raise enough money to make free tuition sustainable, collecting pledges approaching $600 million in a dedicated endowment fund from more than 2,500 individual donors. Even for institutions capable of matching NYU’s fundraising, it would take years of aggressive solicitation to do the same.

Looking towards super wealthy CEOs to subsidize medical education is not a sustainable solution to the rising costs of training the physician workforce. Some critics argue that such reliance may foster unhealthy relationships between powerful donors and influential academic centers.

And for the majority of medical schools, access to such donors does not exist.

Even if a handful of schools follow NYU’s lead, it will do little to solve the financial challenges of medical training or increase the diversity of the nation’s applicants. Most institutions and students are not in a financial position to benefit from this strategy, and it does nothing to address the upstream barriers that keep disadvantaged students from becoming viable candidates in the first place.

Can You Negotiate Your Way to a “Full Ride” to Medical School?

Negotiating a full ride? Don’t count on it. BUT negotiation is an under-discussed and underrated strategy.

We’re often asked about whether it’s okay to use one scholarship to “negotiate” with another school. In a special instance, one of our students was on the waitlist at a prestigious school, but she was also accepted into a lesser ranked school with a full scholarship. Through strategic correspondence and a degree of tact, she got off the waitlist at the prestigious school and secured a full tuition ride.

A well-timed and strategic letter or phone call to the powers that be can certainly get a school to rethink its offer to an individual applicant.

Have any questions about scholarships or tuition waivers? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you personally.

Best of luck acquiring your personal subsidies!

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