After nearly two years of intense debate and student protests, Cooper Union has announced that it will end its 155-year tradition of tuition-free education—a hallmark of the prestigious institution. The school’s board of trustees said in a statement that budget-cutting measures could not relieve the $12 million annual deficit it has on its hands. The new policy will cut the full tuition-free scholarship to 50 percent for the undergraduate class beginning in fall 2014. Depending on financial need, a student could pay nothing or up to $20,000. Industrialist Peter Cooper founded the school in 1859 on the premise of providing a first-rate, free education to the working classes.