Kaplan Test Prep Survey: A Majority of Medical Schools Think NYU’s Free Tuition Policy is the Way to Go, but Few Plan to Adopt Similar Policies, Though They’ve Increased Financial Aid Levels

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New York, NY (October 23, 2018) — $192,000. It’s a figure engrained in the minds of many aspiring doctors. That’s the median debt for graduating medical students, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. But will free tuition lower that number? The New York University School of Medicine’s recent decision to go tuition-free for all students, regardless of their income, has the widespread support of medical schools across the continent as a good solution to alleviate debt burden, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2018 survey of medical school admissions officers, though only a handful have plans to adopt a similar policy*.

Among the 70 medical schools surveyed, 63 percent agree that NYU’s decision is “a good solution,” while 17 percent do not. The remaining 20 percent are not sure. Here’s what some of them had to say about it:

  • “It’s fantastic. Debt is an enormous driver of students’ choices, so if money wasn’t an issue they could make the decisions they want to.”
  • “The cost of education is increasing so much, especially for doctors, and there’s a shortage of physicians in underserved communities especially, and the cost of tuition can be a barrier.”
  • “I feel if a student is qualified, helping them to progress without the stress of debt might help them perform better in the program.”

Still, however, there were some skeptical admissions officers, with several calling it “unrealistic” for other less prestigious or smaller schools to mimic. Others lamented that free tuition may make students take the program less seriously.

While there was strong support for free tuition overall, 68 percent say they have no plans to adopt a similar tuition-free policy over the next five to 10 years; 4 percent say they do plan to adopt one; and the remaining 28 percent are not sure. The good news for pre-med and medical school students is that 67 percent of medical schools report increasing their level of financial aid over the past three years. And although few had plans to go tuition-free, they did offer some other ideas of how medical schools can help alleviate student debt:

  • “Going to a three year model may help, but maybe not for all students.”
  • “Talking to students about managing debt will be helpful for them, only using what they need to use, being smart.”
  • “I think there needs to be more alumni engagement, scholarships through that facet. Like an undergraduate model, where people are giving back.”

“The good news is that NYU’s decision to go tuition-free kickstarts an important conversation we need to have about the cost of medical education. Though most schools say they have no plans to implement their own similar program, the fact that so many support NYU’s decision at least shows that they recognize it’s a problem and seem willing to do something about it incrementally and in smaller, but significant ways, like upping financial aid amounts,” says Petros Minasi, director of pre-medical programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “We strongly advise pre-meds to think about how they are going to pay for medical school as far in advance as possible. Apply for scholarships early, for example. FAFSA, which undergrads are familiar with, also applies to medical schools, so the process will be familiar. The more money you have before you apply to medical school, the less limited you will be in your options, if cost is prohibitive.”

In 2017, Kaplan Test Prep awarded nearly $3 million in tuition assistance and scholarships to thousands of MCAT students. To apply, students can visit www.kaptest.com/tuitionassistance.  

*The survey was conducted by phone between August and September 2018 of admissions officers at 70 accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Among those tests are the SAT®, PSAT®, ACT®, GRE®, GMAT®, LSAT®, MCAT®, NCLEX-RN® and bar exams. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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