End of an Era

I read in the paper this morning that my alma mater, the Cooper Union, will start charging tuition starting with the class entering in 2014.   The full-scholarship policy, under which I paid $300/year when I was a student, had lasted for more than a century, but not anymore.

The official tuition is $38,500/year, but students will still receive a half scholarship, and have to pay about $20,000/year.  (Books and dorm space, of course, are extra.)  It’s half of what NYU charges, but it’s still a lot, and if you have to borrow to finance your education, you could end up with a debt well in excess of what you might expect to earn in your first year after graduation… in a normal economy.  You could buy a modest house for that, in many parts of the country.

I used to think that Cooper Union was special, and that I was lucky to be able to go there.  But now, they’ve become just another college.

Not that different from NYU up the street.

OK, maybe cheaper, and with a different curriculum.

But just another college.

4 thoughts on “End of an Era”

  1. The deal with the service academies is that you pay your tuition by working for several years (in your early-to-mid-20s, when you’d probably rather do something else) as a military officer. If the government starts charging tuition on top of that, then things are really, really bad. (When I was finishing high school, I was considering going to the Naval Academy. I dropped that when I discovered that I would have to be nominated by a politician: I knew that was never going to happen.)

    1. ROTC is the same deal, but less generous. When one goes to a service academy, they are a member of the military with the rank of “cadet” beginning the day that they enter the academy. They are paid a salary to go to college and receive free room and board, but they don’t see all of the money as they earn it. Some money is withheld for uniforms and books, but most of the money goes to a lump-sum payment that they receive upon graduation. Unlike a ROTC graduate who usually has a four-year active duty obligation, a service academy graduate has to serve at least five years on active duty after graduation. Sometimes the service obligation is postponed, such as if they win a Rhodes scholarship or gain admission to medical school. Of course, they can accumulate an even longer service obligation by going to flight school. There is a reserve duty requirement after the active duty service is completed.

      Service academies are aupposed to cost well over $100,000 per student per year to run.

  2. It’s interesting that Cooper Union gives everyone a half-tuition scholarship. They can reasonably claim that this is an academic, not needs-based scholarship, but I do have to wonder whether they jacked up the tuition to try to attract as much federal and state financial aid as possible.

    Given a tuition rate of $2X, and a family contribution of some amount that is income-based, their pricing seems to be an effort to enable students to qualify for as much financial aid as possible by increasing the notional gap between tuition and the family’s required contribution.

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