Yesterday, Cooper Union's administration has announced that Cooper will no longer offer 100% free scholarship starting with the incoming freshman in fall 2014. It will still be need-blind admission, but it will charge those who can afford it up to 50% of the full price (around $20,000).
Within one hour, my Facebook feed has blown up with almost every classmate of mine posting something related to it and how "Cooper has died".
I am not a fan of the decision that the administration has came up (I am just like everyone else who wish the school can be free forever), but I certainly do think that this will eventually happen, and it is one of the best ways that it could have turn out. If this can last forever, that we can still pay for those who cannot afford, why not? I understand that the whole vision of Cooper's mission that "Education should be free as air and water" but in difficult times, why not let the rich chip in a little bit? The bloated administration is another issue: this is not something that is easy to cut down. It's just unrealistic.
RIP the Free Cooper Union....
But Cooper has not died. Yes, admission rate will go up a bit. Yes, there will be those who would otherwise attend Cooper attend MIT or Harvard. MIT is not free, so why is it so competitive? It's not because it is free, it's because it has the reputation to be one of best schools in the world and producing the best talents in the respected fields. Therefore, theoretically, if Cooper alums like me and you keep doing the best we can do succeed in our fields, we will be able to compensate some of the "reputation" that Cooper have lost from the scholarship reduction.
Only with alum and faulty support may we one day get the full scholarship back. Or maybe we will never get it back, but we still have to keep the place that has given us such a unique opportunity, to stay alive.
Another selfish wish I have is that future alums, who may have to pay some of his/her tuition, will also appreciate Cooper and feel grateful that he/she didn't have to pay 50k/yr for college. Cooper is not purely defined by it's free tuition, but also the quality and the experience it gives.
Go start your company fellow Cooper kids, let's make the next Facebook and get the free tuition tradition back. :)