According to the Yale School of Medicine website, the unit loan – how much med students receiving need-based scholarships are expected to borrow – is being reduced from $23,000 to $15,000 per year for all students beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year. A reduction from $30,000 to $23,000 went into effect for the current academic year. Taken together, this totals a reduction of 50% in two years. Thanks to this change, a greater amount of the student’s demonstrated need will be taken care of by scholarships, resulting in less debt.
According to Robert J. Alpern, MD, Dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine, “We believe that this will have a real impact on those who receive need-based aid and will further enhance our ability to welcome top-tier students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds who will go on to become tomorrow’s leaders in medicine.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) states that 71% of med students had student loans in 2018. The national average debt of all med students was $197,000. In contrast, the Yale class of 2018 had an average debt of $116,000. This new policy change will mean that, starting with the class of 2023, students receiving need-based scholarships should not graduate with a debt load of more than $60,000.
Yale School of Medicine is constantly reviewing at its financial aid policies. A committee, including faculty, students, and staff, was formed in 2017 to find ways to help students who receive need-based assistance. They finally decided to concentrate on two parts of the financial aid policy – the unit loan and parental contribution. Their objective was to make changes to the policy that would have the biggest effect on the most students.
When calculating the amount of financial aid a student receives, it is assumed that financially able parents will help pay the cost of their children’s education. In an attempt to make a medical education less burdensome for families, the ceiling for no parental contribution was raised from $100,000 to $125,000 last year. Parental subsidies are being prorated for income between $125,000 and $165,000.
The committee also decided to reduce the unit loan. Although Yale medical students carried a much lower debt than the national average, it was still enough to make a significant impact on them. “Thanks to the 50% reduction in the unit loan, students who would never have considered applying to the Yale School of Medicine can now be assured that Yale can be affordable for those students of modest means,” stated Laura Ment, MD, associate dean for admission and financial aid.
While some med schools have reduced – or eliminated – tuition, this is only a portion of the cost of med school. Students still face significant costs related to living expenses, books, and other fees, which many still need loans for. Yale includes these costs when determining financial need and gives large enough scholarships that students with demonstrated need should not have to borrow more that the unit loan each year. For those with the greatest need, scholarships cover more than tuition, allowing students to attend tuition-free and have money to cover their other expenses.
Yale is working toward the goal of raising enough scholarship money to cover all demonstrated need, thereby removing the unit loan. This will enable students to attend Yale School of Medicine without graduating with excessive debt.
Ment stated, “Our hope is that this initiative will encourage students of all backgrounds to pursue their passion for research, patient care, and education at Yale.”
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