The Texas A&M College of Medicine has been cited by U.S. News & World Report as the most affordable medical school in the United States for in-state tuition.

The cost of attending Texas A&M for medical school is approximately half of the in-state average among all public medical schools in the U.S., according to the report. Medical students attending the Texas A&M College of Medicine, part of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center, pay just $16,432 per year as state residents.

“The Texas A&M University System exists to create opportunity and serve Texans,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “I am proud that the Texas A&M College of Medicine stays true to this mission by keeping their tuition down, making medical education more accessible, and thus getting more qualified medical professionals out into the workforce.”

“Our College of Medicine is serving the state and nation exceedingly well, and it’s gratifying to know we are doing so in a manner that also serves our students well—making their medical education most affordable in comparison to what their peers pay elsewhere,” noted Texas A&M President Michael K. Young. “That is in keeping with our Land Grant College heritage, and it is part of our commitment to keep costs as low as possible for all of our students while maintaining our high academic standards. Because this major factor is helping our students graduate with lower-than-average debt, they are permitted to make career choices with less financial obligation.”

Of the 67 public schools that submitted in-state tuition and fees data to U.S. News for the 2015-2016 school year, the average cost was $32,495 per year. That cost is much higher at private medical schools, where the average price for tuition and fees is $52,515, according to the data submitted by 48 private medical schools to U.S. News in its annual survey.

The average cost for tuition and fees among the 10 least expensive medical schools for in-state students—six of which are Texas-based—was $19,355 per year.

The rising cost of medical education and increasing student debt have made it progressively more difficult to become a physician, officials note. A reduced debt burden gives graduates the freedom to choose specialties that are not based on their ability to pay back their debt, but on the health care needs of communities. It also allows graduates greater options to relocate or return to underserved areas of the country with the skills and integrity to positively impact the communities that need it most.

“Studies show that while student debt is not the primary factor in choosing a specialty or sub-specialty, students will avoid investigating primary care tracks out of concern for how they might repay their debt,” said Paul Ogden, M.D., interim senior vice president and chief operating officer of Texas A&M Health Science Center and interim dean of the College of Medicine. “By keeping our tuition costs low and offering more scholarships, particularly full-ride scholarships, we’re working to address this concern and allow students to explore all areas of medical practice.”