Beginning next year, students at the Yale School of Music will no longer have to pay tuition, due to a recent $100 million anonymous donation.
The donation — the largest single contribution in the school’s history — will waive tuition for all students starting next fall and will allow the institution to expand several other programs. Students said they were excited about the changes made possible by the gift, which was announced last Friday in an e-mail from Acting Dean Thomas Duffy to members of the campus music community.
“This donor has allowed us to accelerate a plan that will make a big impact on our ability to attract the best and brightest,” Duffy said.
Currently, tuition for the music school is $23,750, and graduates from the program often leave school with $30,000 to $40,000 in debt, Duffy said. While students may still accrue debt from living expenses during their time at the Music School, he said the school will work toward providing a living stipend in addition to the tuition waiver.
Yale President Richard Levin said the tuition waiver will be unique among nondoctoral graduate programs.
“The use of the first money to come in would be to eliminate tuition for all students,” he said. “We have that policy in the Ph.D. programs, but this is the first of the professional schools.”
The Curtis Institute in Philadelphia is the only other graduate music program to guarantee a tuition waiver to every student, Matthew Barnson MUS ’07 said. Barnson said he left another graduate school that offered him a living stipend to attend Yale’s program, even though he had to accept some debt.
“I don’t know a single other music school in the country, perhaps the world, that’s going to have an endowment like this,” he said. “It’s going to be very, very tough for anybody to turn it down.”
Ezra Laderman, a former dean of the music school, said the donation will make it easier for Yale to attract top students to its programs. While Yale has consistently ranked as one of the top five or six music schools, peer institutions offered more competitive financial aid packages, Laderman said.
“We know we’ve lost many students because we couldn’t compete with the financial aid offered by schools like Juilliard,” he said.
But Jenny Lee ’06 said she thinks the size of the gift is inappropriate, because there are pressing humanitarian needs around the world. The earthquake in India and Pakistan last month may be the largest crisis in the world, she said, and some of the money could have been better spent helping the disaster victims.
“[The anonymous donor] could have given $20 million to the School of Music and still helped a lot of students with their tuition while giving $80 million to other causes,” Lee said.
The gift may allow Yale’s Music School to expand its exchange programs with other schools, and more undergraduates may be able to study with Music School professors, Duffy said. In the past, applicants accepted to Yale have often been denied private instruction from School of Music faculty, Duffy said, because the Music School has been forced to focus primarily on its graduate students.
“If music is truly that important a part of their life, they often choose to go elsewhere,” Duffy said. “I wonder if we can’t through the beneficence of this donor find a situation where we can reconsider the exclusivity of the School of Music faculty.”
Duffy said further details of the new programs made possible by the donation will be announced once a permanent dean is named to replace Robert Blocker, who left this summer.