By: Jonathan Levin and Sruli Friedman  | 

YU Affiliated Einstein College of Medicine to Offer Free Tuition Following $1 Billion Donation

The YU-founded Albert Einstein College of Medicine received a $1 billion donation from a retired faculty member, making tuition free for all students going forward, the school announced Monday.

The donation, heralded by Einstein as the largest ever made to a medical school, was made by former professor and chair of Einstein's board of trustees Ruth Gottesman and will fund tuition for all students in perpetuity. Gottesman hoped that her gift would enable students, including students who normally wouldn’t apply to Einstein due to financial concerns, to start their careers without debt. Her initial announcement of the donation at a school gathering brought audience members to cheers and others to tears.

Tuition at Einstein costs nearly $60,000 annually, with average medical school debt in the U.S. often leaving students with $200,000 debt post-graduation. Gottesman’s donation will cover the tuition of all students beginning in the 2024-’25 academic year, as well as Spring ‘24 tuition for fourth-year students. 

“This donation radically revolutionizes our ability to continue attracting students who are committed to our mission, not just those who can afford it,” said Marilyn and Stanley Katz Dean Dr. Yaron Tomer in a press release.  “It will free up and lift our students, enabling them to pursue projects and ideas that might otherwise be prohibitive.”

Einstein, owned by Montefiore Medical Center, was founded as YU’s medical school in 1955. In 2015, following years of financial difficulties, YU sold the school, handing over operational and financial control to Montefiore, which subsequently received independent accreditation and degree conferment abilities in the following years. YU maintains minority voting rights in Einstein, an Einstein spokesperson told The Commentator, and according to an upper administration member familiar with the sale, retains a 49% stake in the institution. 

The donation came from money left by Gottesman’s late husband, David Gottesman, a Yeshiva University trustee, who passed away in 2022. The money was earned by early investments he made in Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s Omaha-based investment firm. 

Ruth Gottesman, who began working at Einstein in 1968, only discovered her husband’s stock portfolio following his passing, along with his instructions to give it to a cause she felt was right, she told the New York Times. Following some consideration, she decided to give it to the school she worked for so many years, believing it would have a large impact on its students.

“We have terrific medical students, 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,” she told the Times.

Following its sale to Montefiore, The Albert Einstein College of Medicine received the ability to confer degrees in 2019, with independent accreditation, which gave it full academic independence from YU, coming from Middle States in 2021.

Yeshiva University is among the schools with the most students accepted into Einstein’s M.D. program, with seven out of 183 students in its class of 2027 coming from YU, according to Einstein admissions data. According to the upper administration member familiar with the sale, YU’s contract of sale with Montefiore contains provisions requiring Einstein to select 15% of incoming students from YU, provided their applications are competitive. 

Though YU and Einstein are now independent of each other, they have several joint programs in place. In 2021, YU and Montefiore announced a YU\Einstein scholars program allowing high school students to receive honors scholarships for YU’s undergraduate schools and guaranteed admission to Einstein. YU also offers a course for honors and dean’s scholar students from both Wilf and Beren, who can take seven Friday classes a semester at Einstein for one credit.

Einstein’s campus is located at YU’s Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus in the Bronx, also home to the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and specific programs belonging to the Katz School of Science and Health, which also uses the Beren and Wilf campuses. The school’s dining options are kosher certified and it structures its schedule around Jewish holidays, provisions included in YU’s bill of sale, according to the administration member familiar with the sale.

Students at Stern College for Women (SCW) have previously been eligible to receive up to a full scholarship at Einstein through the Anne Scheiber Scholarship Fund. It is unclear how this scholarship, which was recently extended to provide automatic scholarships for qualifying SCW students studying STEM fields, will be affected.

“We congratulate the Gottesman family for their visionary leadership in significantly advancing Einstein’s founding mission to expand access for all students to top tier medical education,” said President Ari Berman in a YUNews press release. “For seven decades Einstein has generated groundbreaking research and world class physicians. This is a monumental day for our affiliated medical school and for values based medical education.”

The Gottesman family has given donations to both Einstein and YU in the past. In 2008, David and Ruth donated $25 million to support stem cell and epigenomic research at Einstein. 

Ruth Gottesman did not respond to an immediate request for comment, and Yeshiva University declined to comment on its relationship with Einstein. 

Ruth Gottesman’s donation means Einstein is the second medical school in New York City, after New York University, to provide free tuition for all medical students. Columbia University’s medical school provides free tuition for students who demonstrate financial need.

Editors note: This article was updated on Feb. 28 to add that under YU’s contract of sale to Montefiore, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is required to keep kosher, must structure its schedule around Jewish holidays, and needs to admit YU’s students as 15% of its student body, provided that their applications are competitive. The article was also updated to add that the future of the Anne Scheiber Scholarship Fund, which, among its other activities, provides tuition for Stern College for Women students attending Einstein, is unclear.


Photo Caption: A view of the Belfer, Forchheimer and Ullmann buildings of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx

Photo Credit: Chriscobar / Wikimedia Commons