Students at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx...

Students at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx will no longer have to pay tuition after a "transformational" $1 billion donation, school officials announced Monday. Credit: AP/John Minchillo

A former professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx has donated a “transformational” $1 billion to provide tuition-free education for current and future students, school officials announced Monday.

The gift from Ruth L. Gottesman, chair of the Einstein board of trustees and a Montefiore Health System board member, is the largest ever made to a medical school in the country, school officials said.

It ensures, officials added, that no student at Einstein going forward will have to pay tuition — until the announcement, $63,000 annually.

In a statement, the school said the gift is intended to attract a diverse pool of students who may not otherwise have the means to pursue a medical education, free from the burden of crushing loan indebtedness. Medical students amass about $200,000 in debt, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

“This donation radically revolutionizes our ability to continue attracting students who are committed to our mission, not just those who can afford it,” said Dr. Yaron Tomer, the Marilyn and Stanley Katz Dean at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in a statement.

“We will be reminded of the legacy this historic gift represents each spring as we send another diverse class of physicians out across the Bronx and around the world to provide compassionate care and transform their communities,” Tomer said. 

Few medical schools offer tuition-free education. The NYU Grossman School of Medicine in Manhattan made the announcement offering full-tuition scholarships in 2018, and NYU Grossman Long Island School of Medicine opened in 2019, with the same guarantee of full-tuition scholarships. 

Gottesman is the widow of David S. Gottesman, who built the powerful Wall Street investment house, First Manhattan, and presided over it for a half-century. David S. Gottesman, who was also a close associate of Warren Buffett, died in 2022.

“I am very thankful to my late husband, Sandy, for leaving these funds in my care, and l feel blessed to be given the great privilege of making this gift to such a worthy cause,” Gottesman said in a statement.

She added, “Each year, well over 100 students enter Albert Einstein College of Medicine in their quest for degrees in medicine and science. They leave as superbly trained scientists and compassionate and knowledgeable physicians, with the expertise to find new ways to prevent diseases and provide the finest health care to communities here in the Bronx and all over the world.”

With her donation, all current fourth-year students will be reimbursed their spring 2024 semester tuition. Effective beginning in August of this year, all students moving forward will receive free tuition.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine was founded in 1955 with a mission to welcome all students, without restrictions. The gift furthers that mission by removing the financial restrictions for those without the economic means to afford medical school, Einstein officials said.

Dr. Alison Whelan, chief academic officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, praised the donation.

“Gifts that allow medical schools to offset — or even eliminate — tuition for their students can positively impact their ability to attract talented and diverse applicants who otherwise may not have considered a career in medicine,” Whelan said. “We hope that these initiatives will encourage more students to consider applying to medical school, especially if affordability was previously a barrier.”

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