Medical School Applications Surge in Wake of Free Tuition

Applications to NYU’s School of Medicine increased by 47 percent after offering free tuition to students.

The NYU Langone Medical Center, located on First Avenue. (Photo by Tony Wu)

After deciding to attend NYU’s School of Medicine last year, University of Massachusetts graduate Margareta Ianosi-Irimie spent her summer thinking about how she was going to afford the path to becoming a doctor.

“My parents and I spent many long nights looking at different [schools] and what the best one would be,” Ianosi-Irimie explained in an email to WSN. “I was excited to start school but knowing how much I had to pay was always looming in the back of my mind.”

Ianosi-Irimie initially decided to attend NYU Langone because of its location, as the city would expose her to a diverse patient population. However, when the news of the free-tuition for NYU medical students was announced at her White Coat ceremony, Ianosi-Irmine found herself overjoyed with the prospect of graduating debt-free.

“I called [my parents] after the ceremony to tell them the news and immediately burst into tears when I said the words aloud for the first time,” Ianosi-Irimie said. “I didn’t even realize how much finances were weighing down on me until that moment.”

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Ianosi-Irimie is not the only person who found NYU’s announcement of tuition-free medical school for all students to be encouraging. This year, Langone saw a 47-percent increase in medical school applicants.

There was also a substantial increase in minority applicants, including a 142-percent increase in applicants who identified as African American or Afro-Caribbean.

Dr. Rafael Rivera, the Associate Dean for Admission and Financial Aid at NYU School of Medicine, sees the massive increase in applicants as a victory for all medical schools, which have had a longstanding history of stagnant enrollments for minority populations.

“The projected impact on our students likewise is incredibly positive, with early projections arguing for a dramatic reduction in the number of graduating medical students who will have medical school debt and a marked decrease in their graduating medical school indebtedness,” Rivera said in a statement to WSN. “Thus far, it’s everything we hoped it would be and I hope other schools follow suit.”

CAS sophomore and pre-med student Trisha Gupta said that she thinks NYU has made a good step, one that further encourages her to apply to the medical school.

“I think that NYU’s initiative to cover the tuition of all medical school students regardless of need is a phenomenal step in lowering the financial debt that medical students graduate with,” Gupta said. “Personally, as a pre-med undergraduate student at NYU who loves the university, I intended to apply to the medical school regardless, but now am more excited to apply following the free tuition decision.”

For current medical students, Ianosi-Irimie said the promise of graduating debt free makes pursuing a career in medicine a possibility.

“It is a very liberating feeling to know that I can go into any field I choose because I don’t have to worry about paying back enormous loans,” Ianosi-Irimie said. “I don’t have any pressure to choose a field based on money, which, without the full tuition, would have definitely been there.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, print edition. Email Mansee Khurana at [email protected].

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