How an out-of-state tuition decrease fosters diversity

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By: Julia Malacoff

As part of a land-grant institution, the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s mission focuses on building and embracing community not just locally, but also nationally and internationally.

That’s part of the logic behind the college’s recent decision to decrease tuition for incoming out-of-state students from $29,033 per semester to $21,775 per semester, a reduction of approximately 25 percent.

According to Dr. Katherine Ruger, associate dean of admissions and student life in the medical college, the change is overdue. In fact, the out-of-state tuition rate was previously among the highest in the D.O. profession.

“As a result, students from outside Michigan may not have considered our college as a viable option,” Ruger said.

Though the college will continue to recruit and enroll the majority of applicants who are Michigan residents, Ruger said that with a class size of 300, there is flexibility in accepting a greater number of candidates from outside the state.

“It’s important that the physician population reflects the diverse population of the United States,” she emphasized. The college is committed to creating diverse classes of medical students to serve the population of the state of Michigan, as well as the country as a whole.

“There are many people in Michigan who can help make that happen, but there are also a lot of strong candidates outside of the state who may help contribute to these efforts.”

Though there have only been a handful of out-of-state students in each class, many of out-of-state recruits end up remaining in Michigan upon graduation. They have contributed substantially to the community.

“Our students bring diverse ideas and experiences from different places in the country and in the world. We’d really like to see that expand,” Ruger said.

There are many ongoing initiatives to create spaces in the college and curriculum that emphasize and promote diversity and inclusion. Making out-of-state tuition more accessible is one of them. Many students have accumulated quite the financial burden from their undergraduate and even graduate programs that by the time they reach medical school, they are forced to pursue loans with higher interest rates. In some cases, they may not be able to secure loans to cover tuition at all.

“The tuition reduction will really help address the barrier to entry,” Ruger said. 

The tuition change applies to incoming students this year and Ruger hopes that the change also will benefit the state of Michigan as a whole.

“We’re recruiting future physicians to live and learn in the state of Michigan. They will not only contribute to the learning environment, but to our health care system, local economy and the school system,” Ruger said. Along with them, these future physicians bring diverse ideas, perspectives and experiences to the community.”