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Letters to the Editor  |   September 2008
Debt Control for Young DOs
Article Information
Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   September 2008
Debt Control for Young DOs
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, September 2008, Vol. 108, 483-484. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2008.108.9.483
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, September 2008, Vol. 108, 483-484. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2008.108.9.483
To the Editor:  
In several issues of JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, readers have shared their concerns about rising debt levels for graduates of colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs).1-6 These concerns are highly appropriate and are also shared by many COM administrators—some of whom have also taken bold action to suppress rates of tuition increase and expand need-based financial aid in their efforts to reduce borrowing by osteopathic medical students.4,5 
I can report that osteopathic medical students at Philadelphia (Pa) College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) have experienced 5 consecutive years of reduction in the percentage of tuition increases. Tuition for the 2008-2009 academic year at PCOM is increasing 3%—far less than the increase in the college's operating expenses. Moreover, need-based financial aid is at the highest level in PCOM's history. Financial aid packages for the new academic year include institutional grants as high as $10,000. In fact, last year, the college's Board of Trustees decided to allocate proceeds from a land sale to need-based student grants.7 
In his letter, Chadd K. Kraus, MPH, OMS II,3 implied that lower levels of debt for graduates of allopathic medical colleges reflect greater institutional support at those institutions than at our COMs. However, an analysis of self-reported median education debt of osteopathic and allopathic medical students from 1999 to 2007 shows a 65% increase in debt for allopathic medical students during that period,8 compared with a 44% increase in debt for osteopathic medical students (T. Levitan, MEd, written communication, June 2008).9 The higher overall debt of osteopathic medical students is a function of college organizational structure—79% of COM graduates in 2007 earned their degrees at private colleges, which rely heavily on tuition revenue, while 63% of allopathic medical college graduates earned their degrees at public, tax-supported colleges (T. Levitan, MEd, written communication, June 2008).8,9 
At PCOM, we are proud to place debt reduction at the forefront of our strategic goals. We also appreciate the opportunity to take part in the ongoing JAOA conversation about lowering levels of indebtedness for osteopathic medical students. 
Wagner E. Debt control for young DOs [letter]. JAm Osteopath Assoc. 2008;108:53,81. Available at: http://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/108/2/53. Accessed August 28, 2008.
Andrews CK. Excessive tuition does not equal excellent education [letter]. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2008;108:231. Available at: http://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/108/5/231. Accessed August 28, 2008.
Kraus CK. Mortgaging our future, foreclosing our profession [letter]. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2008;108:231-233. Available at: http://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/108/5/231-a. Accessed August 28, 2008.
Goeppinger KH. Award-winning debt-management education [letter]. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2008;108:233-264. Available at: http://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/108/5/233. Accessed August 28, 2008.
Shannon SC. Working to ease debt burdens [letter]. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2008;108:264-265. Available at: http://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/108/5/264. Accessed August 28, 2008.
Crosby JB. AOA is strong advocate for debt relief and primary care [letter]. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2008;108:321. Available at: http://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/108/7/321. Accessed August 28, 2008.
PCOM updates: Campus parcel sold. Digest. 2007; 3.
AAMC: Previous Graduation Questionnaires page. Association of American Medical Colleges Web site. Available at: http://www.aamc.org/data/gq/questionnaires/start.htm. Accessed August 28, 2008.
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. 2006 Annual Statistical Report on Osteopathic Medical Education. Chevy Chase, Md: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine; February 2007. Available at: http://www.aacom.org/resources/bookstore/2006statrpt/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed August 28, 2008.