Medical school debt is having an increasingly challenging impact on medical students and young physicians, as well as the broader practice of medicine and the national health care system.
Rising cost in 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 is 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 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. At the 2020 Fall EFO meeting on Oct. 15, those members present voted to propose to the entire EFO membership the establishment of 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. 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 is important to any student recipient.
- Incoming medical students entering their first year of training at Penn State University College of Medicine.
- Students with a demonstrated financial need for funds to meet their College of Medicine tuition expenses
- Among students meeting the above criteria, preference should be given to students who have the highest academic performance, as shown by their undergraduate grade point average and other academic accomplishments
A minimum of a $50,000 total donation in cash and pledges raised over five years is needed to establish this type of scholarship.
This amount would represent an average of only $500 per EFO member, if every member contributes, and a portion of this amount has already been donated or pledged by EFO members. Further, once an endowment is established at this minimum level, it could grow with donations of any amount at any time from the EFO, individual members, or outside individuals or organizations.
This scholarship will provide concrete 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.
Progress toward commitment goal
- Amount of the Endowment: A minimum of a $50,000 total donation is needed to establish this type of scholarship.
- Individual donations could be either one time cash donations of any amount, or pledges of a minimum of $500 per year for a maximum of five years.
- Actual individual donations will be solicited over a maximum of five years, from 2021 until 2026. In order for the Development Office to begin actual solicitations, the EFO designated The College of Medicine Scholarship as an alternative use of funds should the $50,000 minimum donation not be received within a five-year time period. All donors must approve this potential alternative use of their funds and its purpose before they make their donations.
- The scholarship will be established when the minimum $50,000 in actual cash receipts is attained (i.e., outright gifts and/or completed pledge agreements)
- Once the scholarship is established
- It will be indexed for the rate of inflation
- Unexpended funds will go back into the principle each year
Additional donations could be added and are encouraged.