Durbin Introduces Legislation To Improve Accountability Of Foreign Medical Schools Receiving Federal Student Aid

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation that would protect students and taxpayers by closing a loophole that gives special treatment to a small number of overseas medical schools.  U.S. Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX-26) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

The Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act would require all medical schools outside of the U.S. and Canada to meet the same minimum requirements to receive Title IV student aid dollars. Currently, some overseas medical schools are exempt from meeting the minimum standards to which other foreign medical schools are held: that at least 60 percent of their enrollment must be non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents and that students have at least a 75 percent pass rate on the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam. Three of the exempted schools – all for-profit institutions in the Caribbean – account for nearly three-fourths of the federal student aid going to all foreign medical schools – more than $588 million.

“My bill brings serious accountability to for-profit foreign medical schools in the Caribbean that profit on American students and U.S. taxpayer-funded student aid,” Durbin said. “Their students face massive student debt and less chance of actually becoming a doctor than at quality U.S. medical schools.  By closing the loophole, we can better ensure students receive an education that prepares them to practice medicine in the United States.”

Tuition costs at these offshore medical schools are generally higher than at U.S. medical schools. They are also much less likely than U.S. medical schools to ensure students’ successful completion of the program. The average attrition rate at U.S. medical schools is 3.3 percent, while rates at for-profit foreign medical schools have been known to reach 30 percent.  Students who do graduate do so with much more debt and a much lower likelihood of finding a residency, which is mandatory for practicing medicine in the United States. In 2019, foreign-trained, American graduates had a residency match rate of 59 percent compared to 94 percent of graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools.

The Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act is supported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Osteopathic Association, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, and Associated Medical Colleges of New York.