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Scholarship campaign targets brightest for medical school

Staff Reports | MUSC News Center | October 15, 2014

medical scholarships
Photos by Jonathan Coultas
MUSC scholarship recipient Robert Williams plans to practice medicine in his rural Alabama hometown. 

The interim dean of MUSC’s College of Medicine hopes a new scholarship campaign will bring in talented students who might otherwise choose a different career because medical school can be so expensive.

This marks the first time since its founding in 1824 that the College of Medicine has launched a formal campaign to raise funds for student scholarships, said Deborah Deas, M.D.

“The Opening Door scholarships will let more students explore health care without the burden of increasing debt for their medical education.”

In 1970, the cost of medical school tuition was about $500 a year. In 1990, that number had risen to about $5,000 annually and today, after years of rising costs and steep cuts in state subsidies, tuition alone costs an in-state student more than $36,000 for one year of medical school and more than $62,000 for out-of-state students.

Today, state appropriations now account for just 5 percent of the annual budget at the College of Medicine. Students are now paying 6,500 percent more than they did in 1970. The cost of higher education has outpaced inflation in other sectors, rising 7.45 percent annually between 1978 and 2011, and the past decade has seen steep cuts in state and federal support of higher education.

medical school scholarship 
MUSC scholarship recipient Andra Oprisan, born in Eastern Europe, and her family lost nearly everything in Hurricane Katrina. 

Nearly 90 percent of College of Medicine students borrow money to finance their education. When they graduate, they owe an average of nearly $200,000. That can be a deal-breaker for potential students who are highly qualified but have modest means. Today, just 10 percent of the nation’s medical students come from families with incomes in the lowest 40th percentile.

Organizers of the Opening Doors campaign say it will help keep College of Medicine classrooms filled with the most gifted and motivated students, no matter their financial situations. They hope it will also minimize debt repayment as a factor in students’ career decisions.



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