Medical schools are exploring ways to shrink students’ loan burden, hoping to remove a key obstacle that deters graduates from pursuing less-lucrative careers in primary care or rural areas. Citing data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, U.S. News & World Report points out that more than 75 percent of medical school students who graduated in 2017 took out student loans. U.S. News survey data indicates that the average borrower graduating from medical school at a public institution had nearly $170,000 in student loans; that figure was more than $180,000 among private medical school graduates.
U.S. News highlights several institutions’ efforts to curb student debt, including Columbia University’s April announcement that it will eliminate student loans—replacing them with scholarships instead—for the 55 percent of students at its medical school who receive financial aid. Thanks to a $150 million endowment gift, more than 300 students will receive these full or partial scholarships starting in August. Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico, meanwhile, has incorporated video lectures and other digitized elements to help hold its annual cost around $30,000—about half the cost of private medical school, according to U.S. News.
Other schools, like Tufts University, are focusing on loan repayment assistance, providing funds to help graduates make their monthly loan payments. Finally, U.S. News spotlights a University of California-Riverside program that provides two years of free medical education to students who agree to practice in the inland Southern California region for at least 30 months after graduation. The award—which is offered for only certain disciplines, including pediatrics, family medicine, and psychiatry—converts into a loan with a six percent interest rate if recipients do not fulfill its requirements.
The Georgetown University School of Medicine offers both institutional grants and subsidized student loans; eligibility for institutional financial aid funds is based solely on financial need. Institutional scholarships and student loans are funded by the School of Medicine’s General Fund and by contributions from alumni, foundations, and friends of the School of Medicine. Learn more on the School of Medicine website.