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$1 billion donation makes medical school free for most students at this top university

New York CNN  —  Bloomberg Philanthropies is gifting $1 billion to make medical school free for the majority of students at Johns Hopkins University, joining other high-profile donors who have contributed to tuition-free medical schools across the country. In a letter by Michael Bloomberg in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ annual report, the billionaire said the donation addresses twin challenges: declining health and declining education. Johns Hopkins said Monday that for most medical school students, the gift will cover the full cost of attendance, including tuition and living expenses. Students from families earning less than $300,000 will be eligible for the gift. Living expenses will be covered for students who come from families that earn less than $175,000. It’s not the first medical school to receive such a gift. In February, students at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York received free tuition after a $1 billion dollar donation from a former faculty member, Dr. Ruth Gottesman. In 2018, NYU’s School of Medicine became the first medical school in the country to offer free tuition to accepted students. In the letter, Bloomberg, a Johns Hopkins alumnus, said life expectancy in the US is still lagging behind other countries since the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic also hurt public education, Bloomberg said, noting that “remote schooling was a disaster for students.” The high cost of medical school deters students from lower-income families from applying, the former New York City mayor said. He added that confronting this “health crisis” should unite both political parties. An October survey from the Association of American Medical Colleges found that 70% of medical students who graduated in 2023 have taken on some level of education debt. The average graduate left medical school owing more than $200,000, according to the AAMC. “Many who do matriculate end up dropping out because of financial pressures. And those who graduate often choose to work in the most lucrative specialties in order to repay their debts, rather than in fields and communities that are most in need,” Bloomberg said, adding there are too few primary care doctors in the US. Bloomberg previously donated $1.8 billion in 2018 to undergraduate financial aid at Johns Hopkins University.