For most of its life, Olin College of Engineering in scenic Needham, Massachusettes was free.  All students received a 100% scholarship.  In a sad reflection of the times, though, this has now changed.  Writes their Dean:

There has been an important change in our scholarship policy. Olin was founded on the premise that financial considerations should not stand in the way of an excellent engineering education. That has not changed. Olin is committed to providing a merit scholarship to every student we accept. However, due to the ongoing economic downturn, Olin must reduce its full-tuition scholarship by 50 percent beginning in the 2010-11 academic year.

It's way too early to nay say and deem the Olin 'experiment' in trouble.  That they maintain a guaranteed 50% scholarship (plus needs-based aid) is wonderful.  But I do admit a little sadness as more avenues of higher education become even more expensive.

I'm not an alumni from Olin, and I don't know anyone attending.  But they were one of the very few free educations out there that were worth the paper the diploma is printed on.  So, to end on a positive note, here's the Dean's welcoming message:

Once again, we are looking for 85 outstanding young women and men who will "step out on the ice with us" to help Olin College reach its goal of being recognized as a world-class institution. Academically, our students are strong in all of their subjects, but they have exceptional strength in mathematics and science. However, in the admission process we give particular attention to passions beyond math, science and computers. As a result, we have a student body that is multi-talented, adept in oral and written communications and unafraid of change and uncertainty – all of which are important attributes in preparing leaders who can predict, create and manage new technologies.

Alex, The Daytime Astronomer, Tues&Fri here, via RSS feed, and twitter @skyday

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