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Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine moves closer to full accreditation

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine moves closer to full accreditation

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Correction (4:35 p.m. June 26): The Eastern Virginia Medical School Board of Visitors on June 12 approved a 2 percent tuition increase for in-state and out-of-state medical students. The amount of the increase was incorrect in the published version of this story; it has been updated here. | Our corrections policy

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students should soon be eligible for federal student loans as the school moves forward in its accreditation process.

The Roanoke school is one step closer to full accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, a step that's required by the U.S. Department of Education for participation in federal loan programs.

The school also completed the next phase for gaining accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which governs schools granting M.D. degrees.

The progress comes as the school's board of directors has voted to increase annual tuition by 3.9 percent, to $41,560.

The increase, which comes as the inaugural class enters its third year, is a result of the growing cost of doing business, said Dean Cynda Johnson, who has repeatedly said she wants to rein in the cost of medical education.

By comparison, in-state tuition at the University of Virginia School of Medicine is $43,378 for the first three years, according to the school's website. The board at Eastern Virginia Medical School recently approved a 2 percent increase for in-state tuition, bringing the annual cost to $29,396, according to the school.

To serve its growing student population, the school is looking for a director to run its financial aid program, Johnson said.

Students at Virginia Tech Carilion have received scholarships from the school in part because they were not eligible for federal student aid. Students in the inaugural class were given a full ride for their first year, and since then students in the first and second classes have received partial scholarships, Johnson said.

The school could not participate in the federal student aid program because its initial accreditation application with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was rejected.

The nonprofit medical school, which was formed through a public-private partnership between Carilion Clinic and Virginia Tech, had sought to be added to Virginia Tech's accreditation. The commission said the medical school needed to apply on its own.

Last week's decision by the accrediting body to grant Virginia Tech Carilion "candidacy" status means students soon will be eligible for the federal loan program, said Tom Benberg, senior vice president of the association.

"We don't administer that program, but that has been the pattern of the U.S. Department of Education," Benberg said.

Johnson said that Virginia Tech Carilion will work quickly to complete the process required by the government, but that it was too soon to say when students would be able to access the Title IV federal student loans.

The medical school, which will welcome its third class of students Aug. 1, will have four years to be in full compliance with accrediting standards.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech Carilion also is making progress in becoming an accredited medical school. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education granted the school provisional accreditation, the third stage of the four-stage process.

The school will be eligible for full accreditation with the committee when its inaugural class graduates in spring 2014.

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