New York University makes tuition free for all medical students

The university added that medical school debt is "reshaping the medical profession", encouraging graduates to choose more lucrative specializations to pay off their educational debt rather than choose primary care.

School officials worry that rising tuition and soaring loan balances are pushing new doctors into high-paying fields and contributing to a shortage of researchers and primary care physicians.

NYU School of Medicine made the surprise announcement at its annual White Coat Ceremony on Thursday - when new students receive a white lab coat as they begin their studies.

"A population as diverse as ours is best served by doctors from all walks of life, we believe, and aspiring physicians and surgeons should not be prevented from pursuing a career in medicine because of the prospect of overwhelming financial debt", Robert Grossman, the dean of the NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU Langone Health said in a statement.

The school has launched a $600 million campaign to fund an endowment that will cover the costs of the scholarships.

"Our hope - and expectation - is that by making medical school accessible to a broader range of applicants, we will be a catalyst for transforming medical education nationwide", said Kenneth Langone, chair of the Board of Trustees of NYU Langone Health. On average, doctors now graduating from a private school do so with $202,000 in debt.

Tuition was to have been set at $55,000 for next year; most medical students will still face a bill of approximately $29,000 for living expenses.

Dr. Rafael Rivera, associate dean for admissions and financial aid, said the program goes further than other forms of financial aid, which require students to apply before finding out about their support.

About 62% of NYU's medical students reportedly graduate with debt; for 2017 graduates, that debt came to $184,000 on average. Debt incurred by paying for medical school tuition fundamentally influences the demographic profile of medical school classes.

The United States could see a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. But the medical school community isn't sure if it'll start a trend. "It takes a tremendous effort to pull something like this off and it's pretty impressive", she said. "Medical school is still a great investment", she said.