Two private medical schools in Washington, already among the most expensive in the country, are preparing tuition increases that will require incoming freshmen to pay $9,000 a year at George Washington University and as much as $10,000 or more at Georgetown University.
These increases, reflecting a nationwide trend toward shifting more of the cost of education to the students, comes at a time when a new federal loan program designed to help relieve the strain on poorer students next fall appears to be in jeopardy.
Although medical school tuition costs are going up all over the country, the local increases have been extraordinary. Tuition at both schools in the fall of 1972 was $3,000 a year for all medical students.
George Washington and Georgetown now receive a substantical federal subsidy - $5,000 per medical student - that will terminate at the end of the academic year. Both schools have been counting on a federally guaranteed loan program to help incoming freshmen pay their tuitions next fall. One of the health manpower training programs enacted by Congress last fall authorized the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to guarantee $500 million of bank loans to students in the health professions.
According to an official in the Bureau of Health Manpower, which is responsible for setting up the loan program, it is encountering difficulties that make it unlikely that it will be ready next fall.
"If that loan program doesn't come off and isn't the smashing success everyone hoped it would be then a lot of kids will be in trouble," said the official.
According to this official, who asked not to be identified, federal health officials were counting on the program to help a large percentage of the 14,000 to 15,000 freshmen medical students across the country to pay their tuition and other expenses.
The program provided that students of a health profession school could receive up to $10,000 a year to a maximum of $50,000 in federally guaranteed loans from banks at a maximum interest of 10 per cent, plus 2 per cent interest to pay the coast of the insurance. Students would be required to pay only interest, with payment of principal defferred until after completion of their training. They then would have up to 15 years to repay their loans. The law established the The law established the loan program for three years.
Banks have shown a reluctance to participate because the interest ceiling is too low, according to the official, and HEW is experiencing difficulty in getting the program established. "So it's going to be a tough three years unless something happens and we don't think it will, to make it attractive to the banks," the official said.
Georgetown University, with 820 medical students, has an estimated annual budget of $29 million for its medical school next fall. According to Pauline Mistry, Georgetown's coordinator of federal programs, the university will need an average of $10,000 tuition from each student for the year.
As a result, freshman will have to pay at least $10,000 and perhaps more, since the university feels that juniors and seniors should not have to bear as much of the increase because tuitions were significantly lower when they entered. Georgetown has not yet set a final tuition figure for freshman next fall, but the university's board of directors has authorized the medical school to go as high as $12,000.
George Washington announced last week that freshman tuition will go from $6,800 to $9,000. For second year students the increase is from $7,000 to $7,500 and for third and fourth year students from $5,500 to $6,000.
According to figures supplied by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the estimated average tuition at private medical schools next fall will be about $5,000. For state residents attending public medical schools, the estimated average is $1,400 and $2,900 for nonresidents.
One of the reasons that medical school tuitions at Georgetown universities are so high is that neither school has a large endowment and neither school receives any assistance from the District of Columbia. Other medical schools, both private and public, receive state assistance to help pay their expenses.
Mistry said Georgetown estimated that it would need about $3 million from the federal loan program to help students in all of its medical school classes. Without the loans, she said, "It's inconceivable what's going to happen."
Jean White, the financial aide officer at George Washington, said she had not yet prepared an estimate of what the demand might be for the loans, but she said that it would be "serious" if the program is not in place nest fall.
The health manpower training program enacted by Congress last fall was designed, among other things, to encourage doctors and dentists into geographical regions where shortages exist by offering incentives in the form of scholarships and loans.
Medical, dental and other health profession students using the loan program would be eligible at the completion of their training for service in areas designated by the Secretary of HEW as needing health professionals. Those professionals who enter into a contract with HEW to serve could have as much as $10,000 a year for each year of service paid by HEW toward the retirement of their loans.
Students entering the newly established National Health Service Corps would receive tuition plus $400 a month plus an additional stipend for reasonable expenses. In return, they would be required to serve a year in a designated area, with a minimum of two years' service, for each year they received a scholarship.