09/17/2012 03:59 pm ET Updated Sep 17, 2012

Regent University Joins Other Private Colleges In Lowering Tuition Rates


Another college is doing the unthinkable (or at least the unlikely): cutting tuition.

Regent University, a private, nonprofit school in Virginia, said in a statement it will reduce tuition for its MBA program by 24 percent and online undergraduate by 20 percent. Tuition for several other programs will receive smaller cuts.

"Nothing else about our degree programs has changed, except to enhance curriculum where we can," said Regent University President Dr. Carlos Campo. "Our commitment to our students will continue to be strong as our exceptional faculty members provide a superior level of Christian higher education."

Regent announced it will change how it charges students too. Full time, on-campus undergrads degrees will switch to a block semester rate, rather than a credit hour charge. This way, students who take 12 credits will get charged the same as if they're taking 18 credits, which the university hopes will encourage faster completion.

Regent will also offer three-year tracks for certain bachelor degree programs, which schools have been trying as a way to help reduce the cost to attend school.

Private colleges like Regent are starting to rethink what makes them seem more attractive to potential students. Where charging more in tuition once made them seem more prominent, private schools now seem poised to tap into the growing anxiety over the ever-increasing cost of college. Some schools like Regent and Concordia University are cutting tuition in hopes grow their enrollment by being viewed as an affordable private education, while their public counterparts continue on a path of endless tuition hikes.

The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. recently lowered tuition by 10 percent to attract better compete with nearby public universities. In Pennsylvania, Cabrini College cut tuition by 12.5 percent and promised not to raise it above $30,000 until at least 2015, according to The Hechinger Report.

"The pushback is beginning," John McCardell Jr., president of Sewanee, said this summer. "[Students and their families] are voting with their feet."

Private colleges are also trying to get around the stigma associated with their sticker price, since many times they offer more generous financial aid packages than public universities.

Tony Pals, spokesman for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, told CNN earlier this year, "These types of initiatives have been used to some degree in the past, but have become increasingly prevalent since the economic downturn -- and we expect to continue to see them spread."



Tuition Hikes Around The Country In 2012