Lifestyle & Belief

Cooper Union charging tuition for the first time in over a century


Cooper Union’s Foundation Building in New York City in 2005.


Mario Tama

NEW YORK— Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art said it will start charging incoming freshmen around $20,000 in tuition in the fall of 2014, after providing free education for more than a century.

The prestigious Manhattan school is one of the last tuition-free colleges in the United States.

“This is money that is necessary to keep us going,” Board of Trustees chairman Mark Epstein explained.

The school has been struggling financially over the last few years and last week, after about two years of debate, the trustees voted to begin charging tuition to undergraduates. The school started charging graduate students this past year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, full tuition is about $38,550. Epstein said students at the art, architecture and engineering school will have to pay about half that.

The school, which will still admit students regardless of what they can pay, will charge undergrads on a sliding scale - free for those “with the greatest needs" and up to $20,000 for those who can afford it.

More from GlobalPost: Cooper Union to break with tradition and have grad students pay tuition

Cooper Union was founded by an endowment from businessman Peter Cooper in 1859 with the goal of educating working-class New Yorkers for free. It bears the unofficial motto that education should be “free as air and water."

“The free [as] air and water turned out to be a myth,” Epstein said.

As the New York Times reported, remains some debate over whether some of the earliest students did, in fact, pay to attend, though no undergraduates have had to in over 100 years.

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