Cooper Union tuition is somewhat of an oxymoron. Cooper Union, after all, doesn’t charge tuition and this has been the college’s practice for over a century. Founded by Peter Cooper, an entrepreneur, industrialist, social reformer, and education pioneer, Cooper wanted to make education available to all. He didn’t want one’s lack of means to restrict a capable student of pursuing a first-rate education. And he put his money where his mouth was by founding a school that does just that.
Cooper Union, a haven for engineers, mathematicians, scientists, and artists, offers one of the very finest educations in the country in these areas. And somehow – unbelievably -the college has made the practice of not charging tuition a sustainable business practice. But that may now change. Cooper Union, after about a hundred years of making college free for a very select set of students (the admission rate ranges from 5% to 10% each year) may now have to start charging tuition. Students from middle-class and low-income families will, however, still get to go for free.
While Cooper Union hasn’t set in stone just yet that they will begin charging tuition, the announcement has sparked outrage from alumni. These alumni, after all, owe their careers, their educations to their free Cooper Union experience. They want to ensure that students of future generations are afforded such opportunities as well. They want to ensure that Peter Cooper’s life achievement does not die in our current economic crisis.