Cleveland med school goes tuition-free

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine in Ohio is going tuition-free, the first US med school to do so. As of July, all incoming students will be awarded full scholarships to cover the costs of their tuition, estimated at $43,500 (students will still pay for their living expenses, a cost of about $21,800). As for current students, their tuition will be cut by half.

In both Canada and the US, most new doctors are burdened by huge amounts of debt. American med school graduates owe on average $140,000, the WSJ reports; in Canada, by comparison, that number jumps to $158,728. This debt load can actually influence a doctor’s career path, steering them towards the higher-paying specialties. In Canada in 2004-05, for example, family doctors made an average of $202,219 (before overhead costs, which can be as much as 40 per cent). Surgeons, meanwhile, averaged $347,720 a year. No wonder, then, that Canada’s short of family doctors.

Cutting med school tuition, the WSJ explains, is an effort to attract more doctors to areas of medicine where the financial payoff might be lower. What’s more, the move is expected to make the med school more attractive, and more competitive, for incoming students.

How will Cleveland Clinic pay for it? These scholarships will initially be funded with money from the school’s operations and endowment, with the goal of funding them solely from endowment in the long run. The school will require no career commitment or repayment if graduates quit early.

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