Student debt is a burden for many college graduates. For new doctors, the need to repay loans can drive them to higher-paying specialties rather than family medicine. "We have been planning, strategizing, and raising money" to address the student debt issue, says the dean of Cornell University's medical school. That planning led to the school's announcement Monday: "It's the right time to offer debt-free medical education," the dean told students and faculty members, the New York Times reports. "I immediately burst into tears," Catherine Han said after learning that her next three years of school will be free of charge. “I feel like the pressure that students know was bearing down on me. ... And I feel so light now."
Students who qualify for financial aid will have all their costs covered, including tuition, room and board, and books. One year at the Manhattan school costs more than $90,000, and the debt for students graduating this year averages $156,851. Without that debt to worry about, a school official said, students "can make the kind of choices they want to make in their medical career." Current students were shocked, thrilled, and especially pleased that the plan takes into account even the high cost of food in New York, per the Cornell Daily Sun. "There's a sort of pride that comes with knowing my college is actually doing something about such a huge fear and obstacle for future doctors," Michael Cirelli said. (Read more student debt stories.)