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A $1 billion donation to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx borough of New York City will pay tuition for all of its students, The New York Times reported.

The donation is considered one of the largest single philanthropic gifts to an educational institution and possibly the largest to a medical college.

Ruth Gottesman, a former professor at the medical school and current chair of its Board of Trustees, donated the money left to her by her husband, David Gottesman, who died in 2022. He founded the investment firm First Manhattan and was a protégé of billionaire Warren Buffett.

David Gottesman, who amassed a fortune from an early investment in Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett’s conglomerate, bequeathed the stock portfolio to his wife and told her to “Do whatever you think is right with it,” Ruth Gottesman said. “I wanted to fund students at Einstein so that they would receive free tuition.”

The elimination of tuition at Einstein joins tuition-free programs at a handful of other medical colleges, including at New York University and the Cleveland Clinic. Tuition at Einstein is currently close to $60,000 per year; it will be free starting in August. The average American medical school graduate owes $250,000 in total student debt, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Critics have long pointed to the high cost of medical education as one of the factors fueling the physician shortage.

“We have terrific medical students,” Ruth Gottesman told the Times, “but this will open it up for many other students whose economic status is such that they wouldn’t even think about going to medical school.”

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