It was sweet while it lasted. Cooper Union, an institution founded in 1859 and predicated on the belief that education should be free, announced today that it will start charging its undergraduate students $19,000 tuition beginning in 2014. The school will continue to offer free admission to some students (those identified as being in the "greatest need"), and others will pay on a sliding scale, the Times reports.

“After eighteen months of intense analysis and vigorous debate about the future of Cooper Union, the time has come for us to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future," the school's Board of Trustees Chairman Mark Epstein said in a statement. "Consequently, the Board of Trustees voted last week to reduce the full-tuition scholarship to 50% for all undergraduates admitted to The Cooper Union beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2014."

The public meeting, which reportedly lasted less than an hour, revealed a board divided on the question of tuition, though Epstein declined to give a breakdown of the votes. The statement does however shed some light on the other options considered by the board, including the possibility of cutting enrollment, slashing budgets and simply downsizing the institution. In the end, though, none of the suggestions would prove feasible.

"Being mostly alumni ourselves, we share your sense of the loss of this extraordinary tradition," the statement says. "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."

Several students have in the past vocally protested the tuition proposal—nearly a dozen even locked themselves on the eighth floor of the building last year. The move comes exactly one year after the school announced that graduate students would have to pay up.