FEC Recommendations to Return to Full-Tuition Scholarships

To The Cooper Union Community:

As required by the Consent Decree, the Free Education Committee (FEC) delivered its Recommended Plan to Return to Full-Tuition Scholarships (see also the printable version) to the Financial Monitor and the New York State Attorney General on Monday, January 15, 2018.  The Board of Trustees also received the Recommended Plan on Monday.  Pursuant to the terms of the Consent Decree, we are sharing the FEC’s Recommended Plan on our website beginning today, Sunday, January 21, which is within the seven days allotted from the January 15 due date. 

Next steps will include the Financial Monitor’s assessment of the FEC’s Recommended Plan in its Annual Report (scheduled to be released on or before February 15) and collecting our community’s feedback, which will all be provided to the Board for its discussion and deliberation leading up to the vote on the Recommended Plan in mid-March.  

The Recommended Plan is being shared with the full Cooper community via the Cooper website and emails.  We’d like to share a summary of the Recommended Plan’s highlights with you here:


-  Address Key Needs and Financial Priorities – The FEC, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, and the Administration have developed and recommended a comprehensive plan to return The Cooper Union to full-tuition scholarships for all undergraduate students in 10 years while also investing in the academic program and building a financially healthy and sustainable institution. 

-  Increase Scholarships Beginning in 2 Years – We can begin increasing tuition scholarships in as few as two years by meeting critical fundraising, operating expense, and operating cash surplus goals.

-  Return to Full-Tuition Scholarships in 10 Years – This accelerates the projected time frame for a return to full-tuition scholarships from 22 years to 10. The Recommended Plan also provides for investment in our academic programs and physical plant and the building of long-term financial health.

-  Currently, Cooper Provides Scholarships to All Undergraduate Students Covering 76% of Tuition Costs, On Average – While tuition was first instituted in 2014, Cooper has continued to provide considerable scholarship levels for students.

-  Cooper’s Financial Climb is Steep/$250 Million Required – Decades of structural deficits and unfunded needs have created significant financial need.

o   Operating & capital reserve requires $152 million; Deferred maintenance requires $11 million; Bridge Loan payment requires $39 million; Post-retirement health insurance funding requires $48 million

-  Rigorous Expense Management & Significant Fundraising – The Recommended Plan includes a set of Revenue Initiatives, Expense Management Initiatives, and Revised Financial Assumptions as well as built-in financial guardrails that force us to pause and re-evaluate if we are not meeting our financial goals.

o   There are also additional initiatives and bullpen ideas that can be further explored if the original components don’t play out as expected.   However, these additional ideas do have uncertainty and potential downsides and will only be pursued if these are reduced or eliminated.

A designated, online, community feedback form has been established, and Community Feedback Sessions have been scheduled as follows:


Tuesday, January 30 from 12-2 p.m.


Friday, February 2 from 2-4 p.m.


Monday, January 29 from 6-8 p.m.

Full Community

Wednesday, February 7 from 6-8 p.m.

Tuesday, February 13 from 3-5 p.m.

All sessions will be held in the Great Hall.  We encourage you to attend one of these sessions as your collective feedback is an important component of this process.

On behalf of the FEC, we would like to reiterate the Committee’s thanks to all those who committed their time and shared their ideas throughout this process.  We are proud of the work they have put forth and believe it presents an ambitious and achievable path forward to returning to full-tuition scholarships while also investing in Cooper’s academics and its campus, and building long-term financial health.



  • 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.