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Medical and Pharmacy Student Perceptions of a “First-Year-Free” Tuition Model.

This study serves as the first phase (qualitative phase) of an exploratory sequential mixed method study to understand impacts of student debt on patient safety, and academic and labor force burnout. Current levels of student debt in the US have been labeled a “crisis” and impact many pursuing careers in health professions, which may pose risk to future health care delivery. To address the growing student debt burden, universities have offered solutions that incorporate different types of debt relief up to total debt forgiveness. The University of Utah College of Pharmacy has launched a novel “First-Year-Free” tuition initiative to alleviate debt burdens for students beginning their professional career. Student debt relief anticipates obvious immediate financial implications for students directly receiving assistance, there may also be less-obvious non-financial consequences to the design of student debt policy solutions, e.g., resentment, shifting incentives, and impacts on present and future students. The proposed study is a collaboration between the College of Pharmacy and School of Medicine to capture perspectives of health professions students that are and are not directly benefiting from student debt relief programs, allowing reflection on personal circumstances and identifying potential strategies for debt relief with the biggest impact on their lives.


Joey Mattingly
College of Pharmacy
Project Owner

School of Medicine
Psychiatry - Adult Clinical

Walter Looney
David Eccles School of Business

College of Pharmacy

Project Info

Funded Project Amount

Student debt; tuition; clinician burnout

Project Status
Funded 2023
Last Updated: 9/1/21