Changes Mean Fewer Loans, More Scholarships for Yale Medical Students

Yale School of Medicine has overhauled its financial aid policy with a major boost in aid to middle-income families by eliminating the required parental contribution for families making up to $100,000 per year, medical school Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., announced today.

Yale School of Medicine has overhauled its financial aid policy with a major boost in aid to middle-income families by eliminating the required parental contribution for families making up to $100,000 per year, medical school Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., announced today.

This change is made possible by the addition to the school’s budget of approximately $1.1 million in new need-based-scholarship funds from endowment income.

Alpern said that in addition to making medical school significantly more affordable for middle-income families, the new policy will also remove financial barriers to students entering primary care fields and lower-paying specialties.

“It is critical to the health of medicine and to society in general that medical education is available to students from all segments of society,” said Alpern. “Medical schools also have an obligation to prepare students for careers in all the specialties, so that patients with every kind of medical need can be served.”

“The school’s previous financial aid formula assumed that families earning as little as $45,000 a year could contribute to their children’s medical school costs, when in fact, they often cannot,” said Alpern.

“The students were borrowing much more money than we thought they should, in order to cover this part of the equation,” he said. “The policy assumed the parents could pay and they could not pay, and we’re correcting that now.”

The policy change will apply to all families earning less than $100,000, as long as their assets are typical for their level of income.

The total cost of medical school at Yale in 2008-2009 will be $62,010 for an incoming student, including tuition, room, board, books, transportation and other expenses. The average medical education debt of students who graduated with outstanding loans in 2007 was $115,000, compared to a national average of $157,000 for graduates of private medical schools. The average debt figure is expected to reach $125,000 for this year’s graduating class at Yale.

According to Richard Belitsky, M.D., the school’s deputy dean for education, the rising pressure of student debt is accelerating a trend in career choices away from primary care and from specialties that yield lower reimbursements.

“Our goal is to reduce the debt burden on students and replace it with scholarship aid, so they can make career choices based on what they want to do, rather than what pays the most,” said Belitsky. “If you’re without any resources, there’s scholarship money available to pay for medical school, and if you’re wealthy, there’s family money to pay for it. What we’ve found is that it’s the middle income families who have been taking it on the chin.”

The new policy reflects a growing trend among universities with large endowments to make more financial aid available. Yale College announced in January that it would reduce the cost of undergraduate education by up to 50 percent for families with need. Families earning up to $60,000 a year will make no contribution and families earning up to $120,000 will pay no more than 10 percent of their income toward Yale College costs.

According to Alpern, philanthropy has had the biggest impact on the school’s ability to help families financially.

“We’re very fortunate to have alumni who have given so generously to help our present students shoulder the high cost of a medical education and to be associated with Yale University, which has managed its endowment so brilliantly and enabled us to make these important changes in our financial aid policy,” the dean said. “It will remain a priority for the school to continue to raise funds for scholarships, so that we can lower the costs for those with need.”

In 2007-2008, medical students at Yale received $7.3 million in grants and $9.2 million in student loans. Overall, 87.6 percent of Yale medical students receive some form of financial aid.



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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-980-2222