David Geffen donates $100 million for scholarships to UCLA School of Medicine

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Corey Moore/KPCC

UCLA medical students receive their placements on Match Day. Thirty-three members of next year's entering class will receive full-ride scholarships drawn from a contribution by the school's namesake, entertainment executive David Geffen.

David Geffen has already given enough money to name UCLA’s medical school after him. On Thursday, the school announced that the entertainment executive is contributing $100 million  more.

The new The David Geffen Medical Scholarship Fund will cover full-ride scholarships for 33 students at the school starting next year.

"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," Geffen says in a statement.  

The school’s financial aid director Gloria Pinedo says that on average, a medical school graduate faces about $170,000 in debt.  That often forces graduates to choose different career paths from those that  inspired them to study medicine.  

"You might not be able to pursue your dream of becoming a pediatrician or a family medicine doc in a rural community," Pinedo says.  "Some of the things that you’ve been wanting to do to go back and help your community, because those are lower-paying specialties and you won’t be able to afford to pay your debt."

 Geffen’s new scholarship fund will eliminate that debt for 33 students who enter the medical school next year.  School officials say more than 7500 people apply each year for 163 spots. The school will automatically consider all applicants for the Geffen scholarships. 

 2nd year UCLA medical student Christine Thang really wants to be a pediatrician, and she’s willing to soldier through the debt to get there. Although current students can’t apply for the scholarships, she says she’ll benefit from a ripple effect.

"Money or financial aid that was primarily previously set aside for incoming students will now be available to help current student," says Thang, who also completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA.    "At the end of the day, that's a win-win for all medical students."  

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