$1 billion Bloomberg gift allows most med students at Johns Hopkins to attend for free

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Key takeaways:

  • Students whose families make less than $300,000 a year will receive free tuition at the medical school.
  • The donation will lower the average medical student’s debt at Johns Hopkins to $60,279 by 2029.

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced that it has donated $1 billion to make Johns Hopkins University’s medical school free for most of its students seeking an MD.

“As the U.S. struggles to recover from a disturbing decline in life expectancy, our country faces a serious shortage of doctors, nurses and public health professionals — and yet, the high cost of medical, nursing and graduate school too often bars students from enrolling,” Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P. and former New York City mayor, said in a press release. “By reducing the financial barriers to these essential fields, we can free more students to pursue careers they’re passionate about — and enable them to serve more of the families and communities who need them the most.”

Students whose families make less than $300,000 a year will receive free tuition at the medical school. Image: Adobe Stock

According to the release, beginning this fall, Johns Hopkins University will offer free tuition to medical students whose families make less than $300,000 a year — representative of 95% of all Americans. The university will also cover living expenses and fees in addition to tuition for students from families who earn up to $175,000 a year.

The release noted that medical students from Johns Hopkins University graduate with an average debt of $104,000, which will come down to $60,279 by 2029 as a result of the donation.

Student debt has become a major barrier for those seeking medical education and a factor in the ongoing primary care shortage. According to data from the Education Data Initiative, 73% of medical school graduates report having education debt, and the average medical student’s total loan debt is $250,995. Data also show that 45.2% of medical students said their ability to pay off debt is a primary concern, and about half of low-income medical school graduates owe more than $100,000 in student loans.

The donation will also increase financial aid for low- and middle-income students at Johns Hopkins’ schools of nursing and public health as well as its schools outside the health sector, like those for engineering, arts and sciences and education.

Previous donations from Bloomberg Philanthropies have led to positive changes in socioeconomic diversity, according to the release. For example, a $1.8 billion donation made to Johns Hopkins University in 2018 — meant to ensure that undergraduate students were accepted regardless of families’ incomes — lowered the net cost of attendance by 40%. As a result, students with “the greatest financial need” now make up 21% of the university’s student body, up from 9% a decade ago, the release said.

The newest donation “ensures the most talented aspiring doctors representing the broadest range of socio-economic backgrounds will have the opportunity to graduate debt-free from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,” the release said.


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