Joe Babinski: I-- I still don't think I get it. All told, borrowers owe  $1.5  trillion, more than people owe in credit card debt or car loans. Going to medical school today takes more than ambition, good grades in biology in college, and an appetite for hard work. Ken Langone: You have a right to push and say, "Why didn't you make kids who could afford to pay, pay?" Copyright © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc.All rights reserved. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: Graduating medical school, 85, 86 percent of students have debt. (LAUGH). Dr. Rafael Rivera: By 2030, we'll have a shortage of up to 49,000 primary care docs. Joe Babinski: And they announce that they are supplying full-tuition scholarships for every student. And that's a burden. Follow us on Instagram. Lesley Stahl: So do you think all the other medical schools are going to at least try one model or another of free tuition? Elaine De Leon: Exactly. One father yells out, "I told you you picked the right place!" There were-- there were gasps, there was some quiet, there was some screaming. Her dad is a retired chef. Just after this story aired in April, an anonymous donor reached out and offered to pay all of Elaine Ee Leon's existing student debt, saying they want to encourage her and others to specialize in primary care where patients badly need it. They'd better be, because otherwise, those deans at Harvard and Hopkins and Stanford are likely to see the very best medical students attending NYU, for free. And we want them to know that they owe us nothing. And it's like, it was just this incredible feeling of freedom. (LAUGHTER), Lesley Stahl: But did you get it right away? Elaine De Leon: Already I felt like one of the luckiest medical students in the country because I am in the three-year program, I'm already decided on primary care, I'm already going into this residency program here. NYU Grossman School of Medicine is proud to offer full-tuition scholarships to all current students and future matriculated students in our MD degree program, regardless of merit or financial need, provided each student maintains satisfactory academic progress in accordance with NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy. Fees for the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) are only assessed during the years when the examinations are taken. On the other hand, you decide you wanna go into one of those lucrative-- specialties, ophthalmology, or dermatology, or orthopedics, you're gonna have to pay it back with interest. Opens in a new window. I like the-- a model which I call forgivable loans. Lesley Stahl: To go out and ask other people for money—. Something dramatic. And it gets scary. Ken Langone: And, when you promise me there's no more nickels, I turn you right side up. Lesley Stahl: Did you think you heard them right? NYU Grossman School of Medicine is proud to offer all current students and future matriculated students enrolled in our MD degree program full-tuition scholarships, regardless of need or merit. It takes a willingness to incur a crushing amount of debt. Associate producer, Sara Kuzmarov. As he began that journey, Joe was expecting to take on a great burden. Student debt in general is in crisis in this country. Lesley Stahl: How much did you have to borrow for your first year? Affordability & Financial Aid for MD Students. Lesley Stahl: I can't imagine starting life with that on your shoulders. As we first reported in April, one of America's top medical schools, NYU in New York, has come up with a radical solution. Elaine De Leon: Definitely not. Dr. Rafael Rivera: At first, I see students looking around at each other. Follow us on LinkedIn. You know, orthopedics pays well. It's a tradition on the very first day of medical school, the so-called white coat ceremony, a rite of passage for 24-year-old Joe Babinski and his hundred classmates at New York University. I would think it-- it--, Lesley Stahl: --diverts attention from medical school as well if you actually--. Ken Langone: "As of this very moment, the NYU school of medicine is now a tuition-free medical school. When you enroll in the MD degree program, a tuition charge appears on your bill along with a credit for the full-tuition scholarship that offsets this amount. And that's just your first year. Lesley Stahl: Really? All…". We award full-tuition scholarships to all current students and future matriculated students, regardless of merit or financial need, that cover the majority of the cost of attendance, provided each student maintains satisfactory academic progress in … Joe Babinski: I anticipated taking on about $200,000. (UNINTEL)--. Let's do what we can to help make it easier for them.". Dr. Rafael Rivera: If you are from a rural background, you do tend to go back to practice in a rural setting more often than people who are not from a rural background. The following tables represent tuition and additional expenses that approximate the cost of attending NYU Grossman School of Medicine for MD students enrolling in the upcoming academic year. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is chair of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Lesley Stahl: So the interest grows. And--. Elaine De Leon: I borrowed $76,000 and if I were to pay that off in-- on a ten-year plan it would be $100,000 by the time I paid it off. Lesley Stahl reports on how and why they're doing it. Elaine De Leon: I think just the idea that a lot of people who come from backgrounds like mine, low income, without parents who are able to afford medical school, I think that it's a huge draw. And on the day of that white coat ceremony last August, NYU decided to do something about it. This means that wealthy areas have lots of doctors, and lower income areas don't. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Dr. Rafael Rivera is dean of admissions at NYU Medical School. Ken and Elaine Langone announced that NYU School of Medicine is going tuition-free. Ken Langone: Oh, I go out, and I look at somebody nice like you, and I grab you by your ankles, and I shake you. One of America's most recognized and experienced broadcast journalists, Lesley Stahl has been a 60 Minutes correspondent since 1991. The fields that tend to pay a little less are fields like pediatrics, and general internal medicine, family medicine. Elaine De Leon was in the final year of an accelerated three-year med school program, one year less than the norm. That huge shortage, that distortion of the medical profession, is directly linked to the mountains of debt. Think of that. It took more than a decade, but NYU now has the endowment to offer free tuition to every med student, in perpetuity. He says the prospect of so much debt prevents many people who could be great doctors from even applying to medical school. I think that there's a lot of folks at Bellevue, where I work, this is just anecdotal but I would say at least 60 percent of the patients are Latinos and this is an excellent way to draw the right people to the right institution. Okay? Lesley Stahl: This model says anybody who comes to NYU medical school will come tuition free as opposed to just the kids who need the money. They do still have to pay their own room and board, but for these students, it's a gift worth more than $200,000 each. Opens in a new window. Your individual circumstances determine your exact cost-of-living expenses. Lesley Stahl: Do you think this is gonna make you a better doctor? And then all of a sudden it's, like, oh, and by the way, (LAUGH) like, your last year is free. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: I think people are stressed by it. reaction. Lesley Stahl: Even if you're not interested. These are great people. Ken Langone: "As of this very moment, the NYU school of medicine is now a tuition-free medical school. We don't have enough of those doctors. I have two jobs here. Opens in a new window. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: And-- and I-- I mean, I think almost all of the medical schools had been driving to that before NYU made its announcement. Produced by Rome Hartman. Joe Babinski: I-- I took a picture of the slide on my phone because I-- I didn't want them to remove it and take it away. Lesley Stahl: Wow. Right now, more than half of all medical students come from the richest 20 percent of American families, only about 5 percent from the poorest 20. Elaine graduated from NYU's med school in May, and has now begun her residency training in New York City. NYU Medical School Plans Free Tuition For Those Studying To Be Doctors New York University said the move was to address the high cost of entering a career in medicine. And if you go into primary care or one of these other specialties that needs doctors. And she said, "This morning, when I woke up and I knew I was coming here," she said, "I was convinced I would be in debt when I died to help my son become a doctor." And he said to me, "One of the things I would love to have happen is for, one day, for us to be tuition-free." Ken Langone: Eleven years ago. Lesley Stahl: He said that right in the beginning? Most? Consider this: there are no more African-American men in medical school today than there were 40 years ago. All…" Joe Babinski was sitting in the front row, without a clue that was coming. Joe Babinski: For one, I won't be working while I'm in school. Ken Langone: Bob Grossman, when he became dean, I sat him down. But seriously? Lesley Stahl: And that pressure isn't on your shoulders. The average medical student now graduates with a debt burden as big as a home mortgage. 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