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School of Medicine & Dentistry / Alumni / Give Back / Scholarship Initiative

Scholarship Initiative


Scholarship: A Prescription for Unhealthy Debt

The University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry trains national leaders in medicine, science, and dentistry. We set our selection criteria to the highest standards, the first step in the development of outstanding students and academic leaders. It is critical that we make certain that young men and women meeting our criteria are not deterred by financial constraints by endowing both need-based and merit-based scholarships to ensure the future success of our students and our School.

By building the scholarship base, we are better able to continually hire and retain premier faculty and offer valuable programs such as basic and clinical biomedical research initiatives, international health projects, and community health initiatives. Our innovative curriculum, mentoring environment, and vast array of biomedical research opportunities make Rochester very attractive to students from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures who have diverse interests and life experiences. All of these strengths make Rochester a top choice for top students—and increase the need for alumni and friends to give back to the School. It is a priority to allow exceptional students to attend the School undeterred from staggering medical school costs.

The enormous debt carried by the vast majority of our students and the requirement for us to continue our need-blind admissions policy is illustrative of the critical necessity for funding need-based financial aid.  “In the Class of 2010, 85% of our 94 students became borrowers to attend medical school.  Their average debt for medical school alone was $130,928, which is way below the 2009 national private school median of $177,500.”

Recruitment of the most gifted students will only be enhanced by significant new scholarship funding so that the School remains competitive in its offerings of financial assistance. Scholarships facilitate the very best having the opportunity to benefit from the Rochester learning experience, whether students are pursuing a career in medical practice, scientific research, or both. Merit scholarships have been awarded to a limited extent in the past, but with your help, we will continue to develop a strong and specific program of merit-based scholarships.

Thank you to our generous friends and alumni who recognize the value of supporting medical education. We encourage you to consider how you can help carry the Rochester tradition well into the 21st century with an endowed scholarship fund for our medical students. You can build a true legacy, individually or as a class, by endowing these scholarships.


Photo of Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean Mark Taubman, M.D.

Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D.
'81M (MD), '81M (PhD)

Distinguished University Professor in Medicine, Pathology, and Pharmacology & Physiology

Director, Rochester Neurorestorative Institute


Mark Taubman, M.D.

CEO, University of Rochester Medical Center and UR Medicine

Dean, School of Medicine and Dentistry

Senior Vice President for Health Science

Freedom to Choose

In 2009, the median debt for a private medical school graduate climbed to nearly $180,000, more than a five-fold increase in the past two decades, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).  Eighty-four percent of private medical school students are in debt at the time of graduation.

Today’s medical school graduates already must commit as much as 12 percent of the after-tax income for educational debt service.  Most students defer loan repayment until completion of residency.  At the end of a three year residency, the nearly $180,000 median debt of a private medical school graduate will have grown to almost $242,000.  In a standard 10-year plan, the monthly payments would be approximately $2,780.  With an estimated monthly income for a primary care physician of $16,700 (before taxes), these payments are challenging to make, but manageable.  However, if indebtedness continues to grow more rapidly than physician income, the strain will increase until ultimately the debt burden becomes unmanageable, a AAMC report states.  AAMC projections show that the median debt of private medical school graduates would reach approximately $750,000 by 2033.

If present trends continue and physician incomes increase at 3 percent per year, according to the AAMC, the average physician will be earning $40,000 per month after expenses by 2033, from which he or she will have to pay $18,000 in combined federal, state, and payroll taxes, leaving $22,000 for personal spending. If borrowers use the standard 10-year repayment period, they then will spend half of these personal funds to retire their medical education debt. This could discourage promising students from considering medical school.

“In the long run, schools will have a hard time filling their classes with good students if graduates can’t repay their debts without undue hardship,” said AAMC Senior Associate Vice President H. Paul Jolly, Ph.D., who led a study of debt. “Right now, people with parental incomes in the top 20 percent of U.S. families are making up 55 percent of medical school students. If present trends continue, this imbalance will only worsen.”

Many alumni over the years have chosen to endow a scholarship fund in their own name or in honor of someone who has touched their lives or their professional careers.

Making the Difference

The James F. Morris Scholarship

In 2007, Dr. Morris '48M (MD) informed the School that he had made a bequest in his will for a financial need scholarship for medical students. Dr. Morris believes in the importance of education and the need to give back. “Supporting the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry through a bequest in my will is a wonderful way of doing good with your money while creating a legacy to the institution where I received my training.”

Alumni Tuition Free Program

While in Rochester for his 40th reunion, Charles and Karen Aring heard a talk from Dr. Robert Brent regarding his visionary gift to lay the ground work for a tuition-free medical school. They were excited by the idea and decided right then to make a contribution to the Tuition-Free Fund with a gift of appreciated stock. “We believe in this innovative idea for a medical school endowment fund as it will make the opportunity for a Rochester education affordable for everyone” says Dr. Charles Aring '66M (MD).

Class of 1957 Scholarship

To express appreciation to the School of Medicine and Dentistry and celebrate their 50th reunion, members of the Class of 1957 chose to make a gift that will touch the lives of new generations—the establishment of a merit scholarship fund with donations from the class exceeding $1 million. Faculty members C. McCollister Evarts, M.D. and Jules Cohen, M.D. kept their classmates informed, connected and aware of the gift’s importance. “Scholarships can be the key deciding factor of where a student will pursue their medical education. Hence, the merit-based scholarship fund to attract exceptional individuals to Rochester.”

Thomas R. Noonan Scholarship

Dr. Noonan was on faculty at Rochester until 1965 when he left to continue his work in radiation biology in Oakridge, Tennessee. He never forgot Rochester or the importance of student education. He and his wife had established some gift annuities over the years and then decided to create a charitable trust to provide a stable income to them for life. At his death in the fall of 2007, the proceeds of the trust established the Thomas R. Noonan Scholarship Fund.

How You Can Help

In recent years, many students have been trained in Rochester thanks to the generosity of alumni and other friends of the Medical School. These students are deeply grateful for the opportunities opened to them through scholarship funding. If you are interested in establishing a merit or need-based scholarship, please contact the School of Medicine and Dentistry's Development Office at (800) 333-4428. Scholarships can be established by individuals, families or classes.

Make a gift today!