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The celebrities using their money to pay students’ university tuition fees

Celebrities have been funding students’ university tuition for years by setting up scholarships. But recently, spurred by social media, more and more celebrities seem to be taking a more direct interest in their fans’ education

Student life
Seeta Bhardwa's avatar

Seeta Bhardwa

Editor, THE Student
May 27 2017
Beyonce university fees


Some celebrities have always taken an active interest in the education of their fans by setting up foundations and scholarships to fund university tuition fees. However, a new trend has emerged: fuelled by the connection between celebrities and fans on social media, young people have been directly asking their idols to contribute one-off payments towards their college costs.

Below are just a few examples of where celebrities have supported students to attend university, either through establishing scholarship programmes or by contributing directly to individuals.

1. In May, UK grime artist Stormzy donated £9,000 to British student Fiona Asiedu’s crowdfunding campaign so that she could attend Harvard University. She aimed to raise £12,000 to cover the cost of tuition and other expenses. He was offered dinner at Nando’s as a gesture of thanks. 

2. In April this year, rapper Nicki Minaj (below) promised on Twitter to help students pay their college tuition fees if they could prove that they had received straight-A grades. She ended up paying varying amounts to some 30 fans to cover their educational costs, and promised that she would do it all again soon.

Nicki Minaj

3. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of her album Lemonade in April 2017, singer Beyoncé (main image) established the Formation Scholars Awards for the 2017-18 academic year. “Four scholarships will be awarded, one per college, to female incoming, current or graduate students pursuing studies in creative arts, music, literature or African-American studies,” the announcement on her website stated. The schools selected for participation are Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design and Spelman College

4. Before Beyoncé did it, her husband, the rapper Jay Z (real name Shawn Carter), launched his own educational foundation to give disadvantaged young people the opportunity to attend university. Grants from the foundation can be used to cover tuition costs and educational materials. All students who are awarded the Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund must carry out community service and serve as mentors to young, aspiring Shawn Carter Scholars. The foundation also supports students to study abroad. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents.

5. US model and TV presenter Chrissy Teigen donated $5,605 to student Mercedes Edney’s crowdfunding page to help her achieve her goal of studying at beauty school. Mercedes had already raised enough money to cover the cost of her books and equipment.

6. The David Geffen Medical Scholarship is available to students who are enrolled at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. The scholarship provides full financial support to outstanding students covering tuition costs, room, board, books and supplies. David Geffen founded Geffen Records, which has released music from artists including Elton John, Aerosmith, Blink-182 and Cher.

Read more: University scholarship news and launches

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