On Monday morning, Cornell announced that Weill Cornell would provide debt-free schooling for students qualifying for financial aid.
The program will go into effect as of the 2019-2020 year, Weill Cornell said. Students in Weill’s Class of 2023 — and all classes onward — will have their loans replaced by scholarships.
“Today marks a historic day at @WeillCornell. I am tremendously proud to announce that, thanks to the generosity of our donors, Weill Cornell Medicine will be able to provide debt-free education to all medical students who qualify for financial aid! pic.twitter.com/58Asz2JbYH“
— Augustine MK Choi (@AugustineMKChoi) September 16, 2019
Sticker price for Cornell medical school tuition is currently $58,760, and Weill Cornell’s website states that the program currently has 1,390 students enrolled across its programs.
The announcement follows New York University’s well-received move last August to have a tuition-free medical school.
“[The] program includes all costs, which I don’t think anyone has done,” said Sanford A. Weill. Costs apart from tuition, including books and expenses, will be included in the calculation.
It will allow the school to “reach out to people not based on what they can afford, but what they can do to make the world a better place,” he said.
Organization StudentDebtRelief.com says that the average medical school graduate carries $170,000 in debt, with a quarter of recent graduates owing more that $200,000.
“Why do I pretend I don’t have over 100 thousand dollars in debt right now?” asked Sarita Ballakur, a student speaker from the medical class of 2021, at the ceremony. “Because it’s overwhelming.”
“When I heard this announcement, I was shocked, I was overjoyed,” Ballakur said. “Even standing here, I can’t believe that the loans I took out a month ago won’t stay with me.”
Weill Cornell only offers financial aid to students who are born or naturalized U.S. citizens, permanent residents or eligible non-citizens.
“By investing in our medical students, we impart a lasting, positive effect on the healthcare landscape across the country,” said Cornell President Martha E. Pollack in a Weill Cornell press release.
Dean Augustine M. Choi, who made the announcement, recently penned an op-ed on the issue of medical school burnout among students.
Today, he celebrated what he called “an exciting new era in medical education.”
This story will be updated.