In a move called "innovative" by one higher-education official, the University of Toledo not only announced a freeze in academic and living costs but also added deep discounts to sweeten students' deals.
Months before many universities tip their hands with next year's prices, the Ohio school said it would freeze tuition, room and board as they are for the 2013-14 academic year. It also offered free housing for the upcoming spring semester for transfer students with at least 12 credit hours and incentivized high student performance with a 25 percent campus housing discount for sophomores with at least a 2.5 GPA.
"We wanted to show that we heard loud and clear the concerns that college is getting too expensive," Larry Burns, the school's vice president of external affairs, told the Huffington Post.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer said the pledge was aimed in part at boosting the return rate of freshmen. Currently, 65 percent of freshmen come back for their sophomore year, the school said.
Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro told the Plain-Dealer that other schools should examine Toledo's "innovative" strategies.
But as of yet, the Toledo Blade wrote, the school's across-the-board freeze and resident perks appeared unique within Ohio.
“Even if it makes it difficult on us, I think it’s more important to make it easier for families in higher education," university provost Scott Scarborough said to the Blade.
Other colleges are heeding the post-recession call to make higher education more affordable. Rhode Island's three public colleges are freezing tuition and fees for 2013-14, and Iowa's public schools are on their way to doing the same, according to the Daily Caller. At the higher end of the cost spectrum, Mt. Holyoke College said it would freeze tuition and fees at $41,270 for the second straight year.
Texas and Minnesota are considering multi-year tuition freezes, according to another report, and universities in Arizona, California, Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire have proposed to hold the line on tuition, USA Today wrote.
Universities hope to recoup some of their lost profit through increased state funding, the paper said.
Toledo charges in-state students $9,000 for tuition and fees and $9,875 for room and board, according to the Plain-Dealer. It behooved the school to provide some economic relief, Burns told HuffPost. "Universities that don't fundamentally rethink the way they operate are going to find themselves obsolete in the coming decade."