Tuition & Other Schools

This is a section of Cooper Union's Financial FAQ. Click here to read the rest of the document.

Is Cooper the only highly selective college in the U.S. to offer full-tuition scholarships?

No. Many of the exceptional students who apply to Cooper also apply to the nation’s most selective colleges, many of which offer full scholarships, based on merit as well as financial need. Most highly selective liberal arts colleges do so through a two-step process of need-blind admissions followed by need-based financial aid to offset tuition, room and board, and in some cases, allowances for additional expenses.

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Do the most exclusive colleges and universities offer “merit aid” the same way as The Cooper Union?

The most exclusive schools offer “need-based aid” rather than “merit aid,” according to The New York Times (July 17, 2012, “Help for the Not So Needy”).  “Advocates for low-income students have long criticized merit aid, contending that money is more fruitfully spent on those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford college,” according to The New York Times.  “The most exclusive colleges and universities — the Ivy League, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and liberal arts colleges like Amherst — don’t offer merit aid at all. Grants go only to those deemed to have ‘need.’”

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How does Berea award its full-tuition scholarships, in comparison with Cooper Union?

Berea only accepts students with demonstrated financial need and has an on-campus work requirement.  (Cooper does not ask for financial information during its admissions process, and has no work requirement for accepted undergraduates who all receive full-tuition scholarships regardless of financial need.)

Berea’s policies are quoted as follows on the institution’s website:

1-     “Because Berea also is committed to serving those students with demonstrated economic need, the College restricts admission to promising students whose families cannot finance a comparable college education without significant assistance. Financial need is a requirement for admission.”  [source]

2-     “The cost to Berea College of providing educational opportunities for 2011-2012 is $21,300 per student. Students admitted by the College are guaranteed substantial financial aid through resources other than their parent(s)—e.g., through scholarships, federal aid, and grants from participation in the College's work program—sufficient to cover this "cost of education," which generally is called "tuition" on other campuses.”  [source]

3-     “All students enrolled in an academic term (Fall, Spring, Summer One, or Summer Two) earn a work scholarship.”  [source]

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What other schools, in addition to Cooper, represent a financial value for students and their families?

Both Forbes and Smart Money magazines assign high ratings to Cooper for the value it offers to students and their families.

Cooper is #4 in “Forbes Top 100 Best Buy Colleges 2012; Which College Offers The Biggest Bang For Your Buck?”  According to Forbes, “The zero-cost service academies occupy the top three spots: West Point #1, the Air Force Academy #2, and the Naval Academy #3. In addition, there are many low cost college options for incoming college students who do not want to join the military. New York City's Cooper Union, which grants full scholarships to all students, snags the #4 slot. Other enticing best buys in the top ten include the College of the Ozarks (#5), Berea College (#7) and the University of Florida (#10)."

In “The Most Affordable Colleges in America” (Jan. 7, 2011), Smart Money reported that “Cooper Union is one of a handful of schools where tuition is free for its entire undergraduate body.” The other schools Smart Money listed were Curtis Institute of Music, City University of New York Macaulay Honors College, Deep Springs College (all-male).

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  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.