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Bucking trend, Concordia University slashes tuition

As other colleges and universities continue to increase tuition, Concordia University in St. Paul is dramatically cutting undergraduate tuition for the 2013-14 year by one-third – about $10,000 – the school was to announce Wednesday. Financial aid would get smaller, though, too, so actual savings for students may not be as dramatic, the Pioneer Press reports.
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Concordia University in St. Paul on Wednesday was preparing to announce some striking news: the Lutheran university plans to cut tuition by about one third, or roughly $10,000, the Pioneer Press reports. Financial aid packages would also get smaller, so student savings may not be as dramatic as it would seem.

Still, the move is a contrast to schools in Minnesota and nationwide that have been consistently raising tuitions.

Here's more from the university about how and why they did it. Read the press release from Concordia below.

Tuition rates went up an average of 15 percent nationwide between 2008 and 2010, USA Today recently reported.

Why the sharp increases? Here's one take on the problem (taxpayer support has gone down), written in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Another writer in the Business Insider says it's not that simple, and offers alternative reasons.

Here's a promo video from the university, outlining it's "bold" move:

And here's that Concordia press release:

Concordia University, St. Paul is decreasing the annual tuition price of its traditional undergraduate program by $10,000 for the 2013-14 academic year.

The tuition decrease, available to all new and current students enrolling in Concordia’s traditional undergraduate program next fall, represents a 33 percent drop from the 2012- 13 tuition price of $29,700, bringing it to $19,700. The price of room and board will be frozen at its 2012-13 level for 2013-14.

“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 Tom Ries, president of Concordia. “We hope that other private colleges and universities will soon be able to follow our lead.”

Nothing will be cut or eliminated from the Concordia educational experience, in or out of the classroom, to accommodate the tuition reset.

“After many years of prudent living within our means, we now have the fiscal capacity to reduce our tuition price without sacrificing the quality education Concordia is known for providing,” said Ries. “We had record enrollment numbers and a higher academic profile for our entering class in 2012-13, so Concordia itself is currently in a position of strength. But the economic recession has eroded the financial situations of the students and families we serve, so we recognized the call to respond in keeping with our mission to provide an education of outstanding value at an affordable cost.”

Concordia’s administrators said they wanted to find a way to help both “high-need” and “low-need” students, so that families all along the income spectrum could see a reduction in their net price.

“We are allowing federal and state grants to stretch farther for students who qualify for the maximum in need-based aid,” said Eric LaMott, Concordia’s senior vice president and chief operating officer. “And the tuition reset also makes Concordia a more viable ?option for students who don’t qualify for need-based aid and are often forced to overlook private Christian higher education simply because of the high ‘sticker price.’ ”

By aligning its published tuition cost more closely with the average net cost to attend, Concordia is stating a price that better reflects the actual cost before need-based aid.

“We are bringing a dose of reality to the marketplace by being transparent about our pricing, since the published price at most private colleges and universities, including Concordia, generally is not what most people pay,” said Kristin Vogel, Concordia’s director of undergraduate admissions.

Current Concordia students returning in 2013-14 will receive a recalculated financial aid package under the parameters of the tuition reset that will be more advantageous to them than the financial aid package they would otherwise have received based on the 2012-13 tuition rate with a standard 4 percent annual increase for 2013-14.

Concordia has provided more details about its tuition reset and how it was able to implement the decrease at www.csp.edu/value.

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