NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York University is set to become the first top-ranked institution in the U.S. to pay for the tuition of all its medical students.

The NYU School of Medicine said Thursday current and future medical students will be awarded full tuition scholarships regardless of need or merit, reports CBS2’s Ali Bauman.

“These next couple of years were going to look very difficult for my parents,” said incoming med student Joshua Jiange. “I do have a big interest in doing medical research. That kind of career path looks a lot more feasible now.”

That scholarship will cover a yearly cost of $55,018.

The school says it wanted to reduce the amount of debt students are saddled with after medical school and attract a more diverse class of students.

“People shouldn’t graduate medical school with the equivalent of a mortgage,” said Rafael Rivera, NYU medical dean of admissions.

NYU Langone says 75 percent of doctors graduate in debt at an average of $200,000.

“That level of debt is impacting the physician workforce,” said Rivera.

“This decision recognizes a moral imperative that must be addressed, as institutions place an increasing debt burden on young people who aspire to become physicians,” says Robert I. Grossman, MD, the Saul J. Farber Dean of NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU Langone Health.

The announcement from the medical school’s trustees, leaders, and faculty was delivered this morning to first-year medical students and family members as a surprise ending to the annual “White Coat Ceremony,” where each new student is presented with a white lab coat to mark the start of their medical education and training.

The move was made possible because of donations from more than 2,000 trustees, alumni and others.