The cost of attending medical school has increased due to a rise in tuition in recent years. In a US News finding, tuition at public universities has risen by 194 percent in the past 20 years. However, the UC Riverside School of Medicine has made it easier for students to afford medical school by providing an opportunity to have their tuition paid in exchange for providing their services to the Inland Empire.

As of the 2017-2018 academic year, the UCR School of Medicine’s tuition cost $39,060. With the incorporation of room and board, transportation, personal expenses and books and supplies, the total cost can add up to $60,000. However, to relieve the cost the UCR School of Medicine provides numerous scholarships, including the Dean’s Mission Award. This award, intended for incoming third year students, covers all required university fees not covered by other need-based financial aid sources for two years. In return, students are expected to work for 30 months in general internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, family medicine, general surgery or psychiatry within the Inland Empire.

Dr. Paul Lyons, UCR School of Medicine Senior Associate Dean, explained the purpose of the program in an interview with the Highlander. “The inspiration for the Mission Award is the same inspiration that lies behind the medical school as a whole. The medical school was developed specifically to improve the health and wellness of Inland Southern California … the only way for this to work … is if the graduates stay in this region.”

Lessa Heng, a first year pre-med biochemistry major stated, “That would be something I would be interested in … I am from Southern California, so staying in the region while having a job here would be amazing. It would also be a good experience working in a diverse community.”

Since the scholarships are funded by individuals and donations from regional institutions, there is only enough funding to provide 38 medical students from a class of approximately 220. The number of recipients of the award varies by year depending on the amount of money raised, which can fluctuate over time.

While the cost of tuition would continue to increase, Dr. Lyons explained cost should not discourage anyone from attending medical school. “Even if this type of scholarship is not available, the debt you accumulate going through medical school at the moment is still manageable given the reimbursement”, stated Dr.Lyons. “Although it’s very scary how much money you would owe… it’s still a really good investment of time and money and energy and effort.”

UC Riverside Financial Aid Office was unable to provide more insight on the added support that students can receive.