Meryl Streep will now be able to say, "It wasn't like that when I was in school" without being melodramatic. Yale Drama School announced Wednesday that it will no longer charge tuition, after receiving a $150 million donation from David Geffen. The free education begins this fall and will apply to "all students forever," said Yale President Peter Salovey. "They can begin their careers without the financial burden they would otherwise have." It's the largest known donation "in the history of American theater," Yale said. The university said it will change the name over the door to the David Geffen School of Drama, the Hartford Courant reports. In addition to Streep, the school's alumni include Angela Bassett, Paul Newman, and Courtney B. Vance.
Geffen, who made his money in the music industry, said it was Yale's idea, but he realized that "Yale was the right place to begin to change the way we think about funding arts education." He said the drama school "provides some of the best professional training available to actors, writers, directors, designers, and theater managers from diverse backgrounds. Removing the tuition barrier will allow an even greater diversity of talented people to develop and hone their skills." He worked his way up from the mail room of the William Morris Talent Agency to found Geffen Records and produce Broadway hits such as Cats and Dreamgirls, per CNN. In the 1978-79 school year, he led a Yale seminar, "The Music Industry and Arts Management." (Read more Yale University stories.)