Tatyana-Marie Carlo ’20 MFA spent years working towards a bachelor’s degree part time because she had to work a full time job to pay her tuition and provide for her family. The first year directing student says she almost didn’t apply to Brown for grad school because she knew she wouldn’t be able to afford it. Though she received financial aid, she still would have had to take out substantial student loans to put herself through the MFA.
That picture changed in March, when the University announced that returning students in the Brown-Trinity Rep MFA acting and directing program will receive full tuition scholarships in the 2018-2019 academic year. “It’s important that at Brown we do everything we can to bring the best and brightest students here regardless of ability to pay,” says Provost Locke, who organized the scholarships.
Carlo focuses on bilingual theater production, and by mixing English and Spanish she hopes to make theater more accessible for Latino communities that historically have had less opportunity to engage with theater. “The scholarships will give us the ability to focus on what we want to do instead of having to pay a thousand dollars a month,” Carlo says. “People can’t focus on acting when they have to focus on student loans.”
Trinity Rep’s artistic director, Curt Columbus, had fought for his students to receive full tuition scholarships for twelve years.
“We’ll be able to train students who can then go out without institutional debt so they have a greater chance of making great art,” Columbus says.
Before the scholarships were introduced, the 300-400 yearly applicants to the MFA program were judged in part on their ability to pay. Now the admissions policy will be truly need blind and the program will be more competitive, Columbus explains.
Mauricio Salgado ’18 MFA directing student led efforts to convince the administration to implement the scholarship program. He recalls that when students got the news earlier this semester, “the entire room exploded with excitement.”