Medical school debt is having an increasing impact on medical students and young physicians, as well as the broader practice of medicine and the national health care system.
The rising cost of medical school tuition with limited government support puts medical school financially out of the reach of many aspiring physicians and leaves others, who do take the financial risk, with large debt burdens. In addition, the physician’s income for many specialties, and especially in underserved areas, is just not keeping pace with students’ growing debt. Though the level of student debt is not, as commonly believed, a major factor in specialty choice for most students, it may be a more important factor for those students with moderate or high debt levels. Level of debt may also be a factor in the choice of practice opportunity.
These national trends are reflected here at Penn State. Our medical students consistently graduate with an average debt of $200,000 to $250,000. Penn State College of Medicine currently is able to fund only about 16% of tuition expenses with the approximately 140 need-based scholarships which are now available.
Emeritus Faculty Organization (EFO) members have discussed ways in which the organization could help to reduce the rising cost of medical school for students at the College of Medicine. In 2020, the EFO began the process of establishing a named, endowed scholarship for the benefit of incoming medical students.
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Samuel F. Hinkle Scholarship: Samuel F. Hinkle was one of the College of Medicine’s founders, with close ties to Penn State University, Hershey Chocolate Company, The Hershey Trust and the Milton Hershey School. The EFO has had a long relationship with Sam Hinkle and his family.
Mr. Hinkle trained as a chemical engineer and came to work at the Hershey Chocolate Company in 1924. Initially, he was instrumental in developing successful new products such as Mr. Goodbar and Hershey’s syrup. In 1947, he became plant manager and in 1956 was promoted to company president. In addition to being an effective company leader, he had a broad vision of the Chocolate Corporation’s role in the community. It was at his urging that The Hershey Trust provided the $50 million gift to Penn State University to build a medical college and teaching hospital in Hershey. Mr. Hinkle viewed the founding of the College of Medicine as one of his greatest accomplishments, and as entirely consistent with Milton Hershey’s wishes. In 1975, he described the College as “a school that’s growing in prominence and is surely going to be one of the very finest in the whole world before very long.”
Mr. Hinkle passed away in 1984, and it would seem fitting to continue the EFO’s association with him by honoring him with this scholarship in his memory. In addition to the honor it bestows on Mr. Hinkle, the prestige associated with a named scholarship will be important to any student recipient.
Among students with financial need as demonstrated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the intent of this scholarship is to recognize and reward academic achievement, thereby enhancing the level of scholarship in the College of Medicine and its student body.
Recipients of the Samuel F. Hinkle Scholarship will be medical students with demonstrated high academic performance as shown by their undergraduate grade point average, MCAT score, and other academic achievements including: graduate degrees or advanced courses of study, multiple majors, academic publications, creative accomplishments, funded or unfunded research, or having previously served on a college or university faculty.
EFO members have established this scholarship with an initial endowment of $50,000. Now that the endowment is established at this minimum level, it can grow with donations of any amount at any time from the EFO, individual members, or any other individuals or organizations within or outside the College of Medicine. The faster the endowment grows, the more assistance the scholarship can provide to students. $150,000 in additional contributions, or a total endowment of $200,000, will provide $10,000 in annual scholarship support.
Now that the scholarship is established, it will be indexed for the rate of inflation and unexpended funds will go back into the principal each year. This scholarship will provide concrete financial assistance to medical students. At the same time, it will establish an ongoing role for the EFO in supporting the educational and development efforts of the College of Medicine, two of EFO’s core missions. Thus, it will benefit both the organization and the college.
Anyone interested in supporting the scholarship may contact Bub Parker in the Development Office at email@example.com or 717-531-8497. Everyone is encouraged to consider contributing to this scholarship as a tangible way of demonstrating the EFO’s support of the students in the College of Medicine as former faculty members.