Columbia’s medical school, which was just renamed the Columbia University Roy and Diana Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, after Dr. P. Roy Vagelos, the former chairman of Merck & Co., and his wife donated $250 million to the medical school. $150 million of the gift will be used to fund an endowment that seeks to lower student debt. Dr. Vagelos stated in a recent interview that he wanted the gift to allow Columbia students to pursue less lucrative fields in medicine such as family medicine and pediatrics.
Currently, the median MD graduate indebtedness at Columbia is $113,367 which is a bit below the $127,184 median of our top 25 medical schools and considerably below the $192,000 median debt of all US medical school graduates. Columbia has already stated that it will be a few years before the $150 million gift generates enough income to fund the scholarships. And, unlike the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, the scholarships will be based on need and not merit.