Cooper Union, the only school of Art, Architecture, and Engineering in the United States to offer full tuition scholarships to all admitted students, will soon begin charging students tuition fees due to a budget crisis.
When Cooper Union opened in 1859, from an endowment by the industrialist Peter Cooper, the school’s mission was to provide working class citizens with education at no costs.
Early on, some students who could afford to pay did so, but no undergraduate has paid for more than 100 years.
However, rising expenses, growing administrative staff, disappointing fund-raising drives and costly investments, forced the board of trustees to change the school’s operating procedures.
According to a report in the New York Times, the school currently operates at a $12 million annual deficit. Part of this deficit is the result of a $175 million loan the school took out a few years ago to invest in the stock market.
“The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future,” the board chairman, Mark Epstein, said in an announcement to students and faculty members.
“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.”
Under the plan adopted by Cooper Union’s trustees, the college, based in New York, will continue to admit students without considering an applicant’s financial situation.
However, beginning in fall 2014, it will charge students based on what the college described as a steeply sliding scale. Students who are deemed able paying will be charged tuition fees of around $20,000, and others, including those “with the greatest needs,” will pay nothing.