NYU School of Medicine is offering full-tuition scholarships to all current and future students in its MD degree program regardless of need or merit – to address the rising costs of medical education and still attract the best and brightest students to careers in medicine. NYU has yearly tuition costs of $55,018 and is the only top 10-ranked medical school in the nation so far, to offer these scholarships.

NYU says offering these scholarships for current and future students in its MD degree program is the most recent step it has taken to transform medical education for the better, such as its decision in 2013 to join a select group of U.S. medical schools offering an accelerated three-year curriculum. This allows physicians to get into the field of their choice earlier, during their most productive years, and with less debt.

The school says overwhelming student debt is fundamentally reshaping the medical profession in ways that are adversely affecting healthcare. Saddled with staggering student loans, many graduates choose higher-paying specialties, drawing talent away from less lucrative fields like primary care, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology. Moreover, the financial barriers discourage many promising high school and college students from considering a career in medicine altogether due to fears about the costs associated with medical school.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 75 percent of all doctors in the U.S. graduated with debt in 2017. Additionally, the median cost of medical education (tuition and fees) for private medical school is $59,605 and the median current debt of a graduating student is $202,000. What’s more, 21 percent of doctors graduating from a private school do so with more than $300,000 of educational debt.

“Tuition-free medical education goes beyond the merit and financial scholarships, and debt cancellations that other academic centers have traditionally favored,” says Rafael Rivera, MD, MBA, associate dean for admissions and financial aid. “More importantly, it addresses both physician shortages and diversity.”

Grants, much like merit and financial aid, Dr. Rivera explains, are made only after students have chosen their career path. “That’s too late if we wish to expand the pipeline to bring forth the broadest, most talented group of students, and to give them the financial freedom to choose medicine over other careers.”