$100 Million Gift: 30 UCLA Medical Students Receive Scholarship Support From David Geffen Donation

By Staff Reporter on December 13, 2012 5:08 PM EST

UCLA
Philanthropist David Geffen donates a staggering $100 million in scholarships for UCLA students pursuing medicine. (Photo: UCLA)

Maybe it's the holiday spirit or maybe its the major tax deductions - entertainment executive and gracious philanthropist David Geffen just gift-wrapped an incredible $100 million donation for the full scholarship of more than 30 incoming med students at the UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.

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An immense sum, David Geffen's donation will not only cover the entire cost for medical school tuition, but it will also cover books, room and board, as well as other expenses. The four-year tab usually costs a student the hefty sum of $300,000.

On the amazing gift, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block responded, "It is a fantastic vote of confidence for higher education. We're eternally grateful."

The official announcement for the donation will be made tomorrow. In 2002, Geffen also donated $200 million in unrestricted funds to the medical school and the campus was promptly renamed in his honor. David Geffen is the single largest donor not only to UCLA, but to any single UC campus.

On his contribution, David Gaffen, 69, believes expenses should not deter a brilliant mind from studying for medicine. "The cost of a world-class medical education should not deter our future innovators, doctors and scientists from the path they hope to pursue. We need the students at this world-class institution to be driven by determination and the desire to do their best work and not by the fear of crushing debt. I hope in doing this that others will be inspired to do the same."

An advanced and highly specialized curriculum, it should come as no surprise that more than 85% of medical school students nationwide graduate with incredible sums of debt. In fact, the average amount of debt for graduating med students is pegged at $170,000, according to the statistics from Assn. of American Medical Colleges.

Unfortunately, the burden of carrying such heavy debt when emerging from school often influences students to choose fields that yield higher salaries or to abandon medicine altogether. This dilemma has caused a shortage of primary care doctors, which earn significantly less than specialists.

That debt often influences graduates' career choices and has contributed to a shortage of primary care doctors, who often earn less than specialists. In the future, this shortage will cause problems for the aging American population and for the federal government's abilty to expand health coverage for the uninsured.

While it's unclear what the 30 odd scholarships can do to curb the trend, the idea is certainly a step in the right direction. John Prescott, chief academic officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges called the UCLA scholarships, "Unprecedented. My mouth dropped open when I saw this. It is going to create quite a legacy for the school."

In total, the David Geffen Medical Scholorship Fund will effectively provide scholarships for up to 33 students that will begin studying at the school in 2013. Selection of the scholarship recipients will not be based on financial need but on academic merit.

[Source: LA Times]

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