New York City

Famous Free College May Start Charging Tuition

Currently operating with $12 million annual deficit

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For more than a century, Cooper Union has been a one-of-a-kind meritocracy: Open to any student qualified to walk through its doors. For free.

Its founder envisioned higher education open to all — regardless of race, gender or class — an ideal that has remained the prestigious school's most cherished principle since 1902.

But a lot can change in 100 years. Cooper's Board of Trustees is expected to vote later this month in favor of a proposal to charge its undergraduates something — anything — for their education.