Debt-free Medical Students

  • Medicine & Health
  • 2012

Back in 2002, entertainment executive David Geffen donated $200 million without restriction to the medical school of UCLA, the single largest gift ever to a school of medicine. In 2012 he made an even more interesting donation to the school—a $100 million endowment to allow one fifth of each incoming class of medical students at UCLA thereafter to attend free of charge.

Geffen stipulated that the scholarships would be awarded by merit, allowing UCLA to attract some of the very best medical candidates in the country. And he included in the pool of students he would support those on a combined M.D./Ph.D. track—a path from which many medical-research breakthroughs emerge, though it is generally much less lucrative for the individual. The average newly minted doctor today leaves med school with a debt burden of about $200,000, which constrains subspecializations, regions of practice, and other career decisions.