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Yale Drama School scraps tuition after David Geffen donates $150 million

The Yale School of Drama is eliminating tuition for all current and future students after receiving a $150 million donation from billionaire David Geffen, the noted theater organization announced Wednesday. 

The Ivy League school said it would waive the cost of tuition for all drama students beginning with the upcoming fall semester, which starts in August. Annual tuition at the Yale School of Drama for the past academic year was $34,800.

"This extraordinary and unprecedented gift ensures that from this day forward, in perpetuity, full-time students in degree and certificate programs will receive 100% tuition remission, beginning with the 2021–22 academic year. These programs are now, and always will be, 'tuition free,'" Yale said on its website.

Yale renamed its drama school the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University to celebrate the gift, which is the largest in the history of American theater, according to the institution. 

Students prepare for college after massive gift from businessman 02:42

"David Geffen's visionary generosity ensures that artists of extraordinary potential from all socioeconomic backgrounds will be able to cultivate their talent at Yale," Yale President Peter Salovey said in a statement. 

The Yale School of Music has been tuition-free since 2005, thanks to a similar-sized gift from an anonymous donor. 

"Yale was the right place"

The Yale School of Drama enrolls about 200 students across 10 degree and certificate programs in acting, writing, directing and more. Prominent graduates include actors Meryl Streep, Frances McDormand and Lupita Nyong'o, among many others. 

Geffen, 78, made his fortune in the entertainment industry. He is the founder of record labels Asylum Records, Geffen Records and DGC Records, as well as a co-founder of film studio DreamWorks, along with with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Geffen is worth about $10 billion, according to Forbes.

"Yale is well known for having one of the most respected drama programs in the country. So, when they approached me with this opportunity, I knew Yale was the right place to begin to change the way we think about funding arts education," Geffen said in a statement Wednesday. "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."

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