Cooper Union students are upset over the school's decision to start charging undergraduate tuition.
Students protested outside the school Tuesday.
The school has been free to undergrads for more than 100 years, but now, the Board of Trustees says those full-tuition scholarships will be slashed by half, starting with the class entering in the fall of 2014.
"It's over," said one student. "The school's completely destroyed, basically."
"There are a lot of things that could have been done before this point, and I'm really sad to be out here today with this news," said another.
Jamshed Bharucha, Cooper Union's president, said the school's endowment has shrunk while expenses went up.
Bharucha said Cooper Union wasn't always free to begin with.
"In fact, in Peter Cooper's time, when he was the first president, he welcomed the mixing up, if you like, or the union of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and those who could afford it were charged at that time."
The school plans to continue to provide full scholarships to students who need them most.