With $6.2 billion in the North Dakota Legacy Fund, this should be the easiest decision our Legislature can make. My numbers may be off just a little but it makes sense. Put $400 million in an endowment in the bank owned by the state, taking 4% in interest per year to fully endow a full four-year scholarship for all the medical students at UND.

Why?

● There are 78 medical students per class at UND per year. In-state tuition is $31,130 and out-of-state is $57,620. Let us take the average of $44,375 (let’s round up to $50,000 for inflation) per student per year. So the per-year cost would be $3.9 million per class, or $15.6 million for the four years of students needed per year. Let’s round up and say they need $16 million per year to fund the free tuition. That’s $400 million times 4% per year, never touching the principle.

● The shortage of family practice, internal medicine, pediatric doctors is well known and only getting worse.

● What does North Dakota get in return? By accepting the free medical school tuition the student would owe the state three years of practice in the state. This would give the state an additional revolving 234 new doctors who not only help the state with its need for more doctors but also give us 234 great jobs.

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● Does this increase the odds that more doctors stay in the state? No one knows for sure but it’s better than sitting on our hands and hoping it gets better. Everyone is looking for ideas for the Legacy fund and this would only take 6.2% of the fund.

● Full disclosure: this idea comes from New York University. The number of applicants has increased substantially as you can imagine. Theirs is funded by $100 million from the person who started Home Depot and he and some friends raised another $250 million. They have 100 medical students per year and their tuition is also more than at UND.

No, I do not have a son or daughter going to medical school soon and I am a graduate of North Dakota State University, not the University of North Dakota.