Cooper Students Succeed in Getting Tuition Decision on Extra Credits reversed.
On March 29, 2015 the Engineering School attempted to implement a tuition for charge when undergraduate students take more than 19.5 credits. Students, faculty, and alumni spread the news of the tuition charge on social media. The school reversed this decision on Wednesday, April 1st.
One student representative speaks out about this issue.
Students, faculty, and alumni flooded social media with a protest toward this obvious tuition hike. As I was the first to send out the e-mail, I got embroiled in all of this. The Electrical Engineering Chairperson, Fred Fontaine, stated in a email that the most of the faculty, and all of the Engineering faculty, heavily opposed the introduction of tuition, but there were a few professors, especially Humanities ones, who wished to discourage students from taking more credits. It was stated that this was done by the Dean of Engineering, Teresa Dahlberg, and was proposed by Bill Mea, Vice President for Finance and Administration. Both of these administration members were hired by President Jamshed Bharucha.
The students created a petition against the charge on “overloading” and many alumni supported this. In only one day of the petition being distributed, the petition already had 250 signatures from the students.
Those who applied to the Cooper Union all the way up to the Class of 2019 were never notified about the possibility of this tuition hike. One of the main selling points of Cooper Union used to be the free tuition, including the opportunity to take 20+ credits, allowing the possibility for an affordable masters to be totally viable. This charge on credits should not apply to the Class of 2018 and Class of 2019 like it currently is, as this was not told to us until after we were trapped here, with an inability to transfer until next year. Those who came here for a Masters, now have less of a reason to remain here because the Masters not affordable anymore.
Bill Mea, VP for Finance and Administration, issued this statement in response to the JSC petition about Tuition for Credits above 19.5:
“The Board of Trustees approved the 2015-2016 tuition and fees at its March 11th meeting and, while an official announcement had not yet been issued, yesterday the Cooper Union community reacted negatively to a planned implementation of an overload charge for credits taken above 19.5 credits per semester. As was planned, this charge would have applied to the current freshmen class and future classes. I do not want to restate much of what was said yesterday in emails and on social media, but I do want to provide some additional clarity as to how such an overload charge was proposed.
Institutionally we are still maturing in our policies and practices surrounding the charging of tuition. When I arrived here in September, I noted that we did not have a comprehensive schedule of tuition and fees, including specific policies on charging students who were not full time and students taking overloads. As I sought to implement such a tuition and fees schedule, I consulted with others and received feedback about many areas, including from Dean Dahlberg about increasing the limit from 18..5 to 19.5 credits. I saw this tuition and fees schedule as “normal” for higher education institutions and thus thought implementing it would be a normal course of operations. Having seen yesterday’s reaction to the overload charge, I can say that I am still learning about the culture of Cooper Union. I value our unique character and I wish to honor it.
Accordingly, after consultation with President Bharucha and the Board of Trustees, we will not implement an overload charge for 2015-2016. This is certainly not the time to implement such a policy, and it may never be the right to time to do so. I cannot promise that this will never be implemented, since such policies can help refine the balance between actual course enrollments and the resources needed to accommodate them. But if such a policy change is considered in the future, I will ensure all affected constituencies are included in that conversation. I thank you for your patience in my education in The Cooper Union way.”