Cooper Union Ends Free Tuition

April 24th, 2013

Cooper Union, via Architecture Paper
Cooper Union, via Architecture Paper

After almost two years of debate and discussions, The Cooper Union announced yesterday that it will begin charging tuition on a “steeply sliding scale” for undergraduate students.  The tuition will range from $20,000 a year to nothing for those with “the greatest needs.”

A past protest at Cooper Union, via NBC
A past protest at Cooper Union, via NBC

“The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future,” said Cooper board chairman, Mark Epstein. “Under the new policy, the Cooper Union will continue to adhere to the vision of Peter Cooper, who founded the institution specifically to provide a quality education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.”

Students Circle the Cooper Union, via New York Times
Students Circle the Cooper Union for a Symbolic Embrace, via New York Times

While the institution has strived to find an alternative to charging tuition, its sizable debts and interest on property and loans has caused major deficits in its endowment.  The vote for tuition is an attempt to defray those costs.

Class at Cooper Union, via New York Times
Class at Cooper Union, via New York Times

While the tuition still places the school’s cost of attendance well below that of other private art schools, such as the Rhode Island School of Design or Pratt Institute, some fear that the increased price will still encourage inequality among students.  “It’s a real tragedy,” said professor Peter Buckley. “It reflects the condition of higher education as a whole. Costs are out of control.”

Read more:
The New York Times
The Wall Street Journal