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Will Indiana University School of Medicine make tuition free?

Strategic Plan Priority 2: Maximize the Success of All Learners

IU School of Medicine
Strategic Plan Priority 2:
Maximize Success of All Learners

Will Indiana University School of Medicine make tuition free?

I have been asked that question many times since NYU announced this summer that it would cover the cost of tuition for all current and future medical students. The short answer is, no.

We’ve estimated it would cost about $1.6 billion to create an endowment large enough to waive tuition for all students. While that’s not going to be economically possible for us, addressing the affordability of a medical education is one of our highest priorities. I’d like to take a moment to share some of the steps we are taking to ensure that qualified, talented and diverse students are able to pursue a career in medicine.


First, we have made raising money for scholarships a top priority and have been fortunate to receive generous support from alumni, faculty and other friends. As part of IU’s ongoing Bicentennial fundraising campaign, IU School of Medicine – led by the Office of Gift Development – has established more than 110 new endowed scholarships with total philanthropic commitments of more than $20 million, bringing our total endowment for scholarships to over $73 million.

To encourage such gifts, the school allocated more than $2 million since 2014 to match newly endowed scholarships. And because we want our physician workforce to reflect the diversity of our patients, we designated half of those matching funds for scholarships that support students from underrepresented backgrounds. This is so important to my wife, Robin, and me that we established one of these diversity scholarships ourselves.


In addition to awarding more financial aid, we are committed to keeping tuition as reasonable as possible. We have held increases to less than 1.5 percent per year for the last five years for Indiana residents and to about 3 percent per year for non-residents. Overall the cost of an IU School of Medicine education is at the median for public medical schools.


Despite our best efforts, we know that many students still graduate with significant debt. Among members of the Class of 2018, 76 percent borrowed money to finance their medical education, with those students taking on an average of $215,000 in loans.

This makes it critical that our students finish medical school, on time, and are well-positioned to match in the residency program of their choice. In other words, as outlined in our strategic plan, we want to maximize student success. In the last few years, we have invested heavily to do just that.

All students are now assigned an academic advisor as well as a physician mentor from Day 1. At the same time we have enhanced career development services, including interview and CV prep and access to career mentors. In addition we recognize that medical students nationally face significant stresses that can lead to burnout, depression and anxiety, and so we have significantly expanded mental health services.

Finally, we continue to transform our curriculum so students are practice-ready when they leave our programs. We were one of the first medical schools in the country to develop an instructional format for the electronic health record, and we are now beginning to integrate use of point-of-care ultrasound into training. And this summer, we will introduce a new scholarly concentrations program that will enable students to pursue a focused area of study beyond the traditional curriculum.


While we can’t offer tuition-free medical school, we are committed to do all we can to foster the success of our students and make them extraordinarily competitive as they enter the Match and the job market. This will ultimately ensure that an investment in an IU School of Medicine education is a sound one.

As always, thank you for reading, and thank you for all you do to support our students and our mission.

Read the 2018-2022 strategic plan for IU School of Medicine.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA

Executive Vice President for University Clinical Affairs

Jay L. Hess MD, PhD, MHSA became Dean of the School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for University Clinical Affairs at Indiana University in September 2013. Read his full bio.