Student Debt: Our Top Financial Priority
- By Jessica M. Kerchner
The educational debt of our graduating students is a major concern of the Office of Medical Student Education. The average debt of our graduates is expected to top $180,000 for the class of 2012. The reasons for mounting student borrowing are many. The economic downturn has been the biggest factor; it has reduced the value of our endowed scholarship funds and reduced available capital for our donors, especially the Freeman Foundation, which ended support to our students in 2012.
Recognizing that UVM must be proactive on debt, we have developed a three pronged plan to attack this problem:
- Tuition Growth. The average medical school increased tuition by 6.3% in 2011. We recognize that mounting educational costs cannot continue to be borne by increases in student tuition. Thus since his arrival in 2007, Dean Morin has held tuition increases to at or below the cost of living. This has had a dramatic effect on our ranking among medical schools with respect to tuition costs. In 2007, we were the 22nd most expensive US medical school (measured as total cost of attendance) for non-residents and the 61st most expensive school for in-state residents. Currently, due to continued restraint on tuition increases, we have fallen to 58th among 130 schools for expense for out of state students and 101st for in-state students.
- Scholarship Aid: Dean Morin has made scholarships for students the #1 priority in the upcoming University fundraising campaign. In addition, the University has reorganized its fundraising efforts and created the UVM Foundation, which has College of Medicine needs high on its list of priorities. These professional fundraisers are hard at work looking for philanthropic contributions to help our students. We hope to raise at least $20 million in endowed funds to ensure that all worthy students can afford to come to UVM.
- Counseling and Student Financial Services: We are changing the way student financial services are organized in the College of Medicine. As the new full-time coordinator to Medical Student Financial Services, I now administer services and counseling right here in the Office of Medical Student Education. Thus any student will be able get personal advice or processing help 5 days a week right here in the office. In addition, as counselor, I will oversee all financial services for students and will provide financial counseling and help each student develop a proactive plan to minimize their overall debt.
Bringing educational cost is extremely important because it lowers entry barriers to medical school and enables graduating students to focus on their optimum career choice unburdened by repayment worries. In an era characterized by uncertainty over medical care financing, it will be important to be proactive to ensure that graduates can comfortably repay the investment they made in their education.
UVM COM Student Financial Services
Courtyard at Given, N-125
89 Beaumont Ave.
Burlington, VT 05405