Geffen’s $150 Million Gift Makes Yale Drama School Tuition-Free

Billionaire David Geffen is donating $150 million to Yale University, a gift that will make its drama school tuition-free.

The Yale School of Drama will be renamed for Geffen, the Ivy League university in New Haven, Connecticut, said Wednesday in a statement. It will eliminate tuition for all degree and certificate students, including returning ones, starting in the fall semester that begins in August.

Geffen’s $150 Million Gift Makes Yale Drama School Tuition-Free

“Yale was the right place to begin to change the way we think about funding arts education,” Geffen said in the statement, which says it will be the first tuition-free drama school of its kind in the U.S. “Removing the tuition barrier will allow an even greater diversity of talented people to develop and hone their skills in front of, on, and behind Yale’s stages.”

Geffen, 78, is the founder of Asylum Records, Geffen Records and Geffen Pictures. He also co-founded the film studio DreamWorks SKG with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. His net worth is $11.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Some graduates of the drama school include actors Meryl Streep, Frances McDormand, Angela Bassett, Paul Giamatti and Lupita Nyong’o.

Yale President Peter Salovey said making other Yale degrees tuition-free is a goal. Its music school has been tuition-free since 2006, thanks to a $100 million gift from Denise and Stephen Adams.

“I’d love to do it in some of the parts of Yale where students have high debt like nursing and public health,” Salovey said during a Zoom press conference. “It’s a university-wide goal but especially in these fields like drama where not everyone is going to have a highly remunerative career.”

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