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The Boston Globe

Nation

Tuition-free Cooper Union will begin charging students

NEW YORK — The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, which is one of the last remaining tuition-free colleges in the country but has been under severe financial strain, announced Tuesday that for the first time in more than a century it will charge undergraduates to attend. The decision brings to an end two years of roiling debate about instruction that was long revered as ‘‘free as air and water,’’ and which stood as the school’s most distinguishing feature.

Under the plan adopted by school trustees, the college, based in Greenwich Village, will retain need-blind admissions but beginning in fall 2014, will charge those deemed able to pay around $20,000, and others will pay a rate that the school described as a steeply sliding scale. Many students, including those ‘‘with the greatest needs,’’ would still pay nothing, as would any undergraduate enrolled as of this fall.

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