EAST VILLAGE — Cooper Union will not begin charging tuition to incoming undergraduate students in the fall of 2013 but did not rule out charging students in future years, the cash-strapped school announced.
The school's Board of Trustees met Wednesday to discuss whether to break with tradition and begin charging undergraduate students for the first time as a way of solving its continuing financial struggles.
Last month, the school delayed early admissions to its School of Art for this fall, based on uncertainty over how it would cover the cost of the historically free schooling.
"In the weeks ahead, the Board will continue to review all options to address our financial challenges," the school's administration said in a statement following Wednesday's board meeting.
The statement promised that incoming undergraduate students this fall in all three of the university's programs — the School of Art, the Albert Nerken School of Engineering and the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture — would have their annual fees of about $40,000 covered.
The school, which offers a free education in art, architecture and engineering to about 1,000 students, was hit hard during the recession, leaving it with a $12 million annual deficit, according to a previous statement from the school.
Students responded with outrage to the prospect of Cooper Union beginning to charge tuition, holding protests including locking themselves in the school's clock tower for more than a week.
The group Students for a Free Cooper Union also requested access to the normally closed Board of Trustees meetings, saying the school's administration should be more transparent.
The school's statement said the Board of Trustees would continue to discussing "the matter of student participation" in the traditionally private board meetings.