Yale School of Art eliminates tuition fees

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Following the removal of course and facility fees for art courses, the School of Art aims to promote equity and openness within the art major.


Staff reporter


Yale Daily News

The Yale School of Art has permanently waived tuition and facility fees for art classes, a policy change that aims to make the art major more accessible to students.

The decision to eliminate the course fee was a joint decision made by the School of Art, Yale College, and the Office of the Provost. According to Associate Dean of the Arts Kate Krier, the Offices of Financial Aid and Student Life provided guidance for the implementation of the initiative. The provost’s office has increased the budget for the art major “so that classes can be delivered to the same high standard without charging these fees to students,” Krier said.

“I celebrate this change because it aligns the costs of art classes with the costs of classes in other areas and the financial aid provided for books and school supplies,” Krier said. “I hope this will make it more comfortable for all students to explore courses in this major and relieve the stress on our committed and talented art majors.”

Prior to the policy change, many art classes charged enrolled students fees ranging from $75 to $150, which differed depending on the instructor’s schedule for the class. This money would typically be spent by the instructor on art supplies, field trips, museum tickets, or guest speakers. Digital art courses often charged higher fees due to increased costs associated with cameras, darkroom ink, or other specialized equipment. Fees for drawing lessons were generally on the lower end of the spectrum and often used to rent models and secure supplies for the class.

Tuition fees have often angered students and faculty, which has been a barrier to entry for some undergraduates.

“Many of my friends among FGLI students just couldn’t pursue their art studies at Yale because of the cost,” said Abeyaz Amir ’22, a double major in art and history. “I don’t have the same financial worries with any of my history classes because I can always get used books from my friends or from the library. But with art classes, you can’t ask for people’s “used supplies”. Over the years, that all adds up to $3,000 to $4,000 or more. I stopped counting at some point.

Lisa Kereszi ART ’00, Senior Critic and Director of Undergraduate Art Studies, who was herself a low-income, first-generation college student, shared Amir’s sense of frustration. She was “upset” to learn that many Yale students avoided taking classes or even majoring in art simply because they couldn’t afford it. “It didn’t feel right to me,” Kereszi said.

The only avenue available to students seeking additional financial aid — aside from part-time work — was the Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship, or CPA, a fellowship supported by the Louis Sudler Fund, Welch Art Fund, and Bates. Fund, which offers a maximum of $500 for a visual arts project with the requirement to exhibit their works to the community. Planning such an exhibition often resulted in “extra pressure” on students and took away the fun of “freely exploring one’s interests”, according to Amir.

Kereszi said that although the administration of the School of Art has continuously discussed the issue over the past few years, they felt that they were unable to individually absorb enough funds to eliminate the costs. Most art courses taken by undergraduate students are offered by the School of Art. But according to Kereszi, since his courses are not funded by Yale College but by the school itself, it is nearly impossible to initiate policy change alone.

The School of Art originally hoped to discuss the elimination of tuition fees with Yale College Dean Marvin Chun in April 2020, but the meeting was postponed due to deteriorating public health conditions caused by the COVID-19, Kereszi said. She added that the discussion was revived in the summer of 2021 with the appointment of Kymberly Pinder as the new dean of the School of Art. She raised the issue at the provost’s office. Course fees were waived at the start of the Spring 2022 semester.

“The policy change says we want everyone to have access to artistic creation and that it’s not the privilege of the wealthy to be able to afford good art supplies,” Kereszi said. “On an individual level, it helps each person in need and relieves pressure, but collectively, it’s just a greater sign of respect for Yale students who receive financial aid. It sends a message: we want you to be here, and we want you to take our classes and not feel like you can’t because you can’t afford it.”

Now, every art class at Yale will receive the same lump sum towards its class budget, which the faculty can use as they see fit to enrich the students’ classroom experience.

Undergraduates will still need to purchase items ranging from drawing paper to brushes from a “supply list” for most classes, but those who need them can either use aid program money financial – $500 per semester for all classes – or apply for a CPA grant. Amir noted that he would be “very happy” if Yale made additional arrangements to eliminate some studio fees and provide additional support for FGLI students, while acknowledging that this change is already “a huge improvement.”

“It makes education more accessible in all respects, which means that any student, regardless of their background, can pursue any type of study,” Amir said. “Now that Yale has eliminated those fees, it’s one of the most accessible and renowned arts education programs in the country. Having access to the department and faculty is so important for budding artists. That’s why I’m really excited about this change, knowing that it will allow many more people to pursue their dream.

The Yale School of Art was founded in 1869 as the first professional school of fine arts in the United States.

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