Cooper Union to End 155-Year-Old Tradition of Free Tuition

Starting in the fall of 2014, the renowned and famously free Cooper Union college in Manhattan will start charging tuition for the first time in over a century.

Peter Cooper, the founder of the school, wanted the institution to be "free as air and water." No tuition was part of the art, architecture, and engineering school's identity since 1859. The school had drawn on fundraising and investments to keep the institution tuition free for the thousand or so students enrolled.

Cooper Union's budget deficit, which reached $16.5 million this year, has been increasing for years, and took a particular hit in 2008. In 2011, spokesperson Jolene Travis said, "The possibility of adjusting the full tuition scholarship policy is not a foregone conclusion, but it is a last resort and will be on the table."

After debating for a year and a half about how to fix a major budget gap, trustees voted last week to begin charging tuition.

[Image via Ben Bryant / Shutterstock]