Concordia University is bucking the college cost trend, as it plans to cut undergraduate tuition by $10,000.
Starting next fall, the sticker price will drop by almost a third to $19,700 for a year's tuition, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
Concordia, a small, private school in St. Paul, Minn., announced the decision on Wednesday.
The cost of college has increased by 559 percent in recent decades, outpacing both inflation and health care costs. Tuition has risen at public universities, sometimes doubling in just a few years and reaching nearly $15,000 at some four-year colleges. Harvard University can cost less than attending the University of California-Berkeley because many private nonprofit colleges offer generous financial aid packages.
Concordia, for its part, has rethought the "high tuition/high aid" approach. It will offer the lower tuition by reducing the amount it spends on financial aid packages. At other universities, high amounts of aid are given to students attracted to the prestige created through their high cost -- a phenomenon similar luxury products' popularity.
One of Corcordia's goals is to ensure students aren't taking out massive student loans.
"In resetting our tuition to a price last seen a decade ago, we are responding to the concerns of students and families who feel our nation’s colleges have become unaffordable," said the Rev. Tom Ries, president of Concordia. "We hope that other private colleges and universities will soon be able to follow our lead.”
Concordia hopes the lower cost will attract more students in the coming years, bringing in extra revenue to make up for the reduced tuition. If those students do not come in the numbers school officials hope for, the college would lose out on $700,000, according to MPR.
Only undergrads will see their tuition price go down, so prices won't change for graduate students or those in non-traditional programs.
Cutting tuition is certainly rare, but not totally unheard of. Cabrini College, near Philadelphia, was one of a handful of schools to reduce tuition recently. Others have tried to offer three-year degree programs.
The Iowa Board of Regents also unveiled a plan this week which could lead to a $1,000 cut in tuition at the state's public universities. The move in Iowa would be contingent on eliminating a controversial "tuition set-aside program," which earmarked 15 percent of student tuition toward financial aid services.
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