The New York school announced the change Tuesday, saying the board of trustees made the decision last week, The Wall Street Journal reported. Students entering in 2014 will pay half the cost of their education, but all current students and those entering this fall will continue to have their full tuition paid.
In the current school year, Cooper Union valued tuition at $38,550. The institution has schools of art, architecture and engineering.
"In arriving at our decision, the board thoroughly analyzed a wide range of options, mindful of how the full tuition scholarships have been central to our identity," the trustees said in a statement. "Being mostly alumni ourselves, we share your sense of the loss of this extraordinary tradition. In the final analysis, however, we found no viable solutions that would enable us to maintain the excellence of our programs without an alteration of our scholarship policy."
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, which admitted its first students in 1859, was founded by Peter Cooper, the inventer of a steam railroad engine. Cooper, who had little formal education himself, wanted to provide free college training for everyone of whatever race or gender.
The school's real estate holdings include the land under New York's landmark Chrysler Building.