After announcing last year that it would provide full-tuition scholarships for its students, New York University School of Medicine has seen a 47 percent bump in applications. Moreover, the number of applications from underrepresented minorities doubled, reports MarketWatch. The medical school received over 2,000 applications from students who identify as minorities underrepresented in medicine, up from 1,000 the previous year, associate dean for admissions and financial aid Rafael Rivera told MarketWatch. The largest percentage increase in applications came from students who identify as Black, African-American, or Afro-Caribbean, whose numbers climbed from 438 to 1,062.
Clear enthusiasm for free tuition, but long-term implications still unclear
Some experts like Ronald Ehrenberg, the director of Cornell University’s Higher Education Research Institute, believe that it is still far too early to consider how going tuition-free will affect the program long-term. But for a professional field lacking diversity—in 2016, nearly 59 percent of medical school graduates were white—the demographic changes in NYU’s applicants could produce physicians more sensitive to a variety of patients from different cultural backgrounds.
MarketWatch notes that NYU’s announcement and its latest application numbers come amid a broader debate about the best way to increase college access for populations historically underrepresented in higher education. “There’s definitely something about free college that is galvanizing in a way that previous messages about it being more affordable or accessible have not been successful,” said Mark Huelsman, associate director of policy and research at the think tank Demos.