Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg donates $1 Billion to make Johns Hopkins Medical School free for most students. Wikimedia Commons

In a major philanthropic push for affordable healthcare education, Bloomberg Philanthropies donated $1 billion to Johns Hopkins University, making medical school free for most students. The donation joins similar initiatives across the country.

In a letter featured in Bloomberg Philanthropies' annual report, Michael Bloomberg highlighted that their recent billion-dollar donation was their bid to address two pressing issues: a decline in public health and a lack of access to quality education.

Who Is Michael Bloomberg?

Michael Bloomberg is a billionaire businessman, publisher, philanthropist, and a former three-term mayor of New York City. The founder and owner of Bloomberg LP, he is one of the wealthiest people in the world, with a real-time net worth of $106.2 billion, according to Forbes.

Bloomberg is the founder and owner of Bloomberg LP, a leading financial data and media company. Holding an 88 percent ownership stake, Bloomberg has leveraged his wealth for philanthropic endeavours, most recently covering full tuition and living expenses for low-income medical students at Johns Hopkins University.

Making Medical School More Accessible

Johns Hopkins announced on Monday that thanks to a generous donation, most medical students will benefit from a new financial aid package. This package will cover the full cost of attendance, including tuition and living expenses.

Students from families earning under $300,000 will be eligible for full tuition coverage, while those from families earning under $175,000 will also receive additional support to cover living expenses.

Johns Hopkins is now offering significant financial aid to its medical students. Nearly two-thirds of current and entering students will qualify for either free tuition or free tuition plus living expenses.

Other medical schools also benefitted from such generosity. In February, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York announced free tuition for its students thanks to a $1 billion donation from a former faculty member, Dr. Ruth Gottesman. NYU's School of Medicine is the first in the country to offer free tuition to accepted students, a move they implemented in 2018.

In his letter, Johns Hopkins alumnus Michael Bloomberg highlighted a concerning trend: US life expectancy continues to lag behind other developed nations, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bloomberg further noted the pandemic's negative impact on public education, stating that "remote schooling proved disastrous for many students."

Johns Hopkins is now offering significant financial aid to its medical students. This is especially timely as post-pandemic trends show a rise in persistent absences from school due to mental health concerns, stressing that investing in future healthcare professionals is crucial.

Supporting Future Healthcare Professionals

According to Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, high medical school costs are a significant barrier for students from lower-income backgrounds. He emphasised the need for bipartisan action, stating that tackling this "health crisis" should be a common goal for all political parties.

A troubling Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) survey from October 2023 revealed that a staggering 70 percent of medical graduates left school saddled with student debt. The burden is significant, with the average graduate owing over $200,000.

Bloomberg explained that financial strain forces many students to abandon their medical studies before completion. He further noted that graduates often prioritise lucrative specialities to manage their debt, neglecting areas with the greatest need. This, unfortunately, contributes to the shortage of primary care physicians in the US.

"As the US struggles to recover from a disturbing decline in life expectancy, our country faces a serious shortage of doctors, nurses, and public health professionals—and yet, the high cost of medical, nursing, and graduate school too often bars students from enrolling," said the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P.

"By reducing the financial barriers to these essential fields, we can free more students to pursue careers they're passionate about—and enable them to serve more of the families and communities who need them the most," he added.

Bloomberg, who announced his US presidential candidacy to take on Donald Trump in 2019, is no stranger to philanthropy at Johns Hopkins. In 2018, he donated a record-breaking $1.8 billion to support undergraduate financial aid.