Elaine De Leon: Definitely not. Lesley Stahl: Tell us how this came about. Elaine De Leon: Yeah. And it gets scary. This has been an issue that most deans of medical schools are passionate about. Is there anything in this program that encourages people to go out there? Elaine De Leon: Already I felt like one of the luckiest medical students in the country because I am in the three-year program, I'm already decided on primary care, I'm already going into this residency program here. And that's just your first year. And then all of a sudden it's, like, oh, and by the way, (LAUGH) like, your last year is free. Joe Babinski: For one, I won't be working while I'm in school. We award full-tuition scholarships to all current students and future matriculated students, regardless of merit or financial need, that cover the majority of the cost of attendance, provided each student maintains satisfactory academic progress in … Thank you for printing content from NYU Langone Health. Lesley Stahl: (LAUGH) The money comes out--. Lesley Stahl: Really? The fields that tend to pay a little less are fields like pediatrics, and general internal medicine, family medicine. Follow us on LinkedIn. Lesley Stahl: And those are the doctors we have lacking. And he said to me, "One of the things I would love to have happen is for, one day, for us to be tuition-free." Joe Babinski was sitting in the front row, without a clue that was coming. Elaine De Leon: Exactly. For the 2020-21 academic year this amounts to a scholarship of $57,476 for each student. Right now, more than half of all medical students come from the richest 20 percent of American families, only about 5 percent from the poorest 20. Dr. Rafael Rivera: By 2030, we'll have a shortage of up to 49,000 primary care docs. Now, every med student is on full scholarship with absolutely no strings attached. They look at 200,000. Lesley Stahl: How much debt did you expect you'd be taking on? So, we just say, "You know what? Follow us on Twitter. All students are required to have health insurance, either through NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s student health insurance plan or a parent’s plan. Opens in a new window. Lesley Stahl: So do you think all the other medical schools are going to at least try one model or another of free tuition? Opens in a new window. Let's do what we can to help make it easier for them.". Produced by Rome Hartman. Student debt in general is in crisis in this country. Pass it on. Lesley Stahl: I can't imagine starting life with that on your shoulders. Lesley Stahl: What are the better paying specialties? NYU's no-tuition model replaces what had been a patchwork system of scholarships and financial aid. Joe Babinski: I-- I still don't think I get it. These rates are used when determining students’ eligibility for federal loans to cover expenses beyond tuition, as needed. Neurosurgery. (LAUGHTER). It seems like a huge mountain to climb. Ken Langone: You have a right to push and say, "Why didn't you make kids who could afford to pay, pay?" Going to medical school today takes more than ambition, good grades in biology in college, and an appetite for hard work. Your individual circumstances determine your exact cost-of-living expenses. Consider this: there are no more African-American men in medical school today than there were 40 years ago. All told, borrowers owe  $1.5  trillion, more than people owe in credit card debt or car loans. After all the first-year students had filed back to their seats, Ken Langone, chairman of the board of trustees, and his wife Elaine, let everyone in on a secret. No doctor. © 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. Elaine De Leon: Of course you hear the, like, s-- prime specialties where you get paid the most so you hear dermatology, you hear surgery, you hear all of these things. (LAUGH) Definitely not. Dr. Rafael Rivera: If you are from a rural background, you do tend to go back to practice in a rural setting more often than people who are not from a rural background. Follow us on Facebook. Ken Langone: And these kids went nuts. They do still have to pay their own room and board, but for these students, it's a gift worth more than $200,000 each. Lesley Stahl: How much did you have to borrow for your first year? NYU Grossman School of Medicine is proud to offer full-tuition scholarships to all current students and future matriculated students in our MD degree program, regardless of merit or financial need, provided each student maintains satisfactory academic progress in accordance with NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy. NYU School of Medicine is proud to award all students enrolled in our MD degree program full-tuition scholarships as part of our tuition-free initiative, so that any student can pursue the dream of becoming a physician without the burden of overwhelming student debt. And if you go into primary care or one of these other specialties that needs doctors. Ken Langone made his fortune as a co-founder of home depot. Because we really wanted to be blind in terms of the kids coming here. But a lot of medical students, a lot of young doctors have that. Ken Langone: I think about the mindset of a kid saying, "Somebody did something for me. People have borrowed money to attend medical school for decades, but the scale of the debt has skyrocketed in recent years, along with just about every other cost in health care. On the other hand, you decide you wanna go into one of those lucrative-- specialties, ophthalmology, or dermatology, or orthopedics, you're gonna have to pay it back with interest. And on the day of that white coat ceremony last August, NYU decided to do something about it. Let's do it.". As he began that journey, Joe was expecting to take on a great burden. These are great people. Lesley Stahl: This model says anybody who comes to NYU medical school will come tuition free as opposed to just the kids who need the money. Joe Babinski: And they announce that they are supplying full-tuition scholarships for every student. Now, I've gotta do something for somebody." (LAUGH). Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is chair of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. That huge shortage, that distortion of the medical profession, is directly linked to the mountains of debt. And there was a sense of, "Did I hear that right?" Or you go practice in a rural community, like in South Dakota, or you go into an inner city community that's underserved, we're gonna forgive your loan. This was the real-time reaction of another father. Copyright © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc.All rights reserved. But I think that ultimately, like, a life of serving is more important to me. Joe Babinski: I anticipated taking on about $200,000. Lesley Stahl: Wow. Lesley Stahl: He said that right in the beginning? Lesley Stahl: I know of so many communities in-- in poor areas that don't have a doctor at all. I would think it-- it--, Lesley Stahl: --diverts attention from medical school as well if you actually--. Ken Langone: "As of this very moment, the NYU school of medicine is now a tuition-free medical school. There were-- there were gasps, there was some quiet, there was some screaming. Or at least consider them. Ken Langone: Bob Grossman, when he became dean, I sat him down. Lesley Stahl: Even if you're not interested. We were there. All…". And she said, "This morning, when I woke up and I knew I was coming here," she said, "I was convinced I would be in debt when I died to help my son become a doctor." If you are from an underrepresented minority group, similarly, you also tend to go back to inner city underserved areas. I think that there's a lot of folks at Bellevue, where I work, this is just anecdotal but I would say at least 60 percent of the patients are Latinos and this is an excellent way to draw the right people to the right institution. Ken and Elaine Langone announced that NYU School of Medicine is going tuition-free. Lesley Stahl: Could your family afford medical school? The following tables represent tuition and additional expenses that approximate the cost of attending NYU Grossman School of Medicine for MD students enrolling in the upcoming academic year. Middle School, High School & College Diversity Recruitment, Vilcek Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, PhD Training Faculty at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy, Miscellaneous (laundry, clothing, personal, other). It takes a willingness to incur a crushing amount of debt. And before you knew it, the-- the audience had erupted into cheers of joy. Fees for the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) are only assessed during the years when the examinations are taken. Just after this story aired in April, an anonymous donor reached out and offered to pay all of Elaine Ee Leon's existing student debt, saying they want to encourage her and others to specialize in primary care where patients badly need it. Ken Langone: When we announced it, a mother, a pediatrician, came up to me, 30 years out of medical school, and she told me she was still paying off her medical school debt.