Johns Hopkins waives medical school tuition with $1B from Bloomberg

Bloomberg Philanthropies is donating $1 billion to Johns Hopkins University, making medical school free for students from families earning less than $300,000 a year.

The tuition policy change at the Baltimore-based school will take effect this fall. Tuition will be covered for medical students from families earning less than $300,000 a year, a threshold that represents 95% of all Americans. Additionally, the school will cover living expenses and fees for students from families earning up to $175,000.

"Making medical and nursing school more affordable is a society-wide challenge, but individual schools — and donors — can help lead the way," Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP, wrote in his annual letter on philanthropy, released July 8. Mr. Bloomberg graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of all students seeking a medical degree from Johns Hopkins qualify for financial aid and students graduate from the school with an average total loan debt of approximately $104,000. The foundation notes that the $1 billion gift and the covered expenses for qualifying families will reduce the average student loan debt for Johns Hopkins medical graduates to $60,279 by 2029, while students from the vast majority of American families "will pay nothing at all."

Gifts to medical schools attract significant attention and public interest, often more so than many other charitable donations, even those of higher dollar amounts or from famous benefactors. However, such donations are less common than one might expect, with financial support for medical students being relatively rare compared to other causes donors choose to fund. In 2020, the average debt of graduating medical students was approximately $207,000.

This gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies aligns with its previous contributions to Johns Hopkins and its more recent efforts to build the healthcare pipeline.

In 2018, the foundation gifted $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins to ensure that students are accepted regardless of their family's income. "This gift has permanently established need-blind undergraduate admissions, and reduced the debt burdens that students are forced to carry," Mr. Bloomberg said in his letter.

In 2024, Bloomberg Philanthropies put $250 million toward a first-of-its-kind initiative for healthcare high schools in 10 rural and urban areas, in which more than a dozen health systems and public schools work together to design curriculum and job placement pathways to build healthcare workforce pipelines.

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