Med School tops price list

Naomi Scott

The University Medical School is the most expensive public medical school in the country, according to a tuition and student fees report the Association of American Medical Colleges released last week.

“State support is going down,” said Deborah Powell, dean of the Medical School. “And the cost of education is being shifted to the students.”

For in-state students, the Medical School’s combined tuition and fees costs – $29,638 per year – ranked highest among more than 70 public medical schools listed in the report.

“I hate to be No. 1 in that,” Powell said.

One reason the University is the most expensive is that cost is based on the first year of school, said Helene Horwitz, associate dean of the Medical School’s Student Affairs Office. The University has three semesters in the first year, while most medical schools only have two.

Also, the current first-year class will be the first to have a guaranteed tuition rate for all 11 semesters of school. That means its tuition will not go higher than a certain amount, Horowitz said. Students in the classes ahead of it pay less for their third and fourth years, she said.

Powell said the school tries to keep its tuition rates constant, but it cannot prevent the University from increasing fees for medical students.

Five other Big Ten schools are in the top 10 for having the highest in-state public medical school tuition rates. The University of Wisconsin-Madison was ranked number 19 on the list.

Susan Skochelak, the senior associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, said that two years ago, that school was one of the highest on the list.

She said that because medical students were accumulating so much debt, there was concern students were choosing medical fields that led to making money, rather than fields they were skilled at and interested in.

When tuition increased across all areas of study at the university two years ago, its medical school made a successful appeal to its board of regents to make an exception for the medical school and the veterinary school, Skochelak said.

Scott Bormann, a cell biology senior at the University of Minnesota’s Duluth campus, said tuition is “definitely a factor” in his decision of where to attend medical school.

Bormann, a Wisconsin resident, said that if he gets accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota, he will go to the Wisconsin school partly because its tuition is lower.

Powell said that students at the University of Minnesota’s Duluth campus Medical School’s department of family medicine have recently been turned off by the program. Powell said some students feel the salary levels in family medicine are not high enough to make up for the debts they incur while in school.

Donald Connelly, professor of lab medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota, said his son-in-law, who trained in pediatrics at the Twin Cities campus Medical School, has incurred a lot of debt.

“He’s lived this high cost of medical training, and now he’s working on digging himself out,” Connelly said. “When everyone’s getting ready for retirement, he’ll still be paying off his debts.”

Powell said a task force of Medical School faculty members has prepared a report for the Association of American Medical Colleges, addressing local and national strategies that will deal with the cost concern.

Megan Clinton, president of the Medical School class of 2006, said she thinks the education students receive at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus Medical School is “well worth the money.

“But, because of the high tuition, some of the very qualified students from the state of Minnesota may look to go elsewhere,” she said. “The joke is that we get a public-school education for a private-school price.”