THE BLOG
07/11/2013 11:57 am ET | Updated Sep 10, 2013

The Cooper Union & Tuition Spikes: What Does It Mean for Students?

A college education continues to be more of a necessity for the job market today, yet at the same time it seems to grow more unattainable for students from lesser financial backgrounds.

In April, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a privately funded college in New York specializing in art, architecture and engineering, announced it would charge students tuition in the 2013-2014 school year -- the first time since the school's founding in 1859.

The decision has since been met with several student protests; according to the school's official website, tuition for the 2012-2013 school year was $19,275 per semester, but all registered students have always received full tuition scholarships.

Student upset is to be expected, as several students likely chose to attend The Cooper Union for financial reasons; the school's founder Peter Cooper looked to admit students on the sole admission criteria of merit. Nonetheless, the response has been extreme and overwhelmingly disorganized.

Mirroring similarly ineffective protests from the Occupy Wall Street effort in 2011, students at The Cooper Union occupied the office of President Jamshed Bharucha and interrupted this spring's commencement ceremonies.

Despite obvious student outrage, the newly instated tuition spike seems necessary for the school, which faced financial strain this past academic year.

The school blames the financial crisis mainly on miscalculation of managing endowments. The college upgraded its engineering facilities prior to receiving funding; they never secured sufficient donations after the fact and, in order to climb out of self-inflicted debt, were forced to charge tuition.

With the institution of student tuition across all three of the college's schools on both the undergraduate and graduate level, the school better ensures students a worthwhile education.

Student tuition, in addition to the private funding the school receives, will allow The Cooper Union to provide better resources for its students. Without tuition charges, the quality of education would be sacrificed and the school would likely be forced to close eventually.

Nonetheless, there still resides a dilemma for students looking to obtain a college education but do not have the monetary means. The Cooper Union is just one example of rising tuition costs that have risen at colleges and universities across the nation.

If tuition increases -- or in the case of The Cooper Union, the incarnation of student tuition altogether -- are treated as a temporary measure only, students will likely react in a more favorable manner and schools can provide the best education until the economic strife is solved.

By Mel DeCandia, University of Maryland

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