Reducing that burden is a way that medical schools can help promote socioeconomic diversity - by making going to medical school seem like a possible plan for a student from a lower income family. Even though physicians are usually able to pay back their school loans, imagine that you had a lot of debt from undergrad and now you are looking at schools that have a total COA approaching 350-400k total. That's pretty intimidating. Columbia's financial aid program doesn't automatically make everyone have an equal chance to do pre-med internships and get a good gpa and MCAT classes, but it does help reduce a perceived burden so med school may feel like an option for more people. Columbia also offers programs for low income students to help them get paid clinical experiences. They are still trying to recruit a competitive class and they may believe that the answer is not to lower their admissions standards.Debt free does not mean that they changed the underlying statistics of their student body. It just means that they've reduced some of the burden on the matriculates.