Students at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York that qualify for financial aid have just learned that they will be able to attend college for free thanks to generous donations from donors. All costs will be covered by scholarships, including tuition, room and board, books and other educational expenses. The program covers all eligible students going forward, but not retroactively.
Weill Cornell had a scholarship endowment of $150 million before it announced $160 million in new donations to support the medical programs. The donations came from the Starr Foundation, from Joan and Sanford I. Weill, and from the Weill Family Foundation, as well as other donors. The Weills are the institution’s biggest benefactors. According to the school, it needs about $50 million more in the coming years to ensure that the program continues in perpetuity
The program begins with the newly admitted class and includes students already enrolled and receiving financial aid, so the incoming class of first-year students stands to benefit the most. These students will have their student loans replaced by scholarships for the upcoming year and each year until they graduate. Need-based loans that have already been distributed for the current year will be “converted” to scholarship grants in the next few weeks.
Under a separate program, students pursuing dual M.D.-Ph.D degrees will be provided full tuition and living expenses stipends. These funds will come from the National Institutes of Health and Weill Cornell Medicine. Combined, the two programs will give two-thirds of the school’s medical student body the ability to graduate without debt.
Weill Cornell Medicine is the latest addition to a growing list of institutions trying to make things easier for potential doctors. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York University, and Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons have all launched student debt-relief programs in the last 17 months. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, students who graduate from medical school have a median debt of roughly $200,000.