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To draw students, colleges slicing tuition, cutting financial aid

NEW YORK, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Faced with scaring off potential students with the high cost of education, some U.S. colleges say they are lowering tuition while decreasing discounts.

School administrators contend that by dropping the cost of tuition they can attract more students and raise more revenue, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

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Few students actually pay the full published tuition costs, says the National Association of College and University Business Officers. With grants and scholarships, the real cost to students is about half of what the recruitment brochure states.

Such tuition schemes are a threat to small private colleges, who say they can't continue to make such deals. Several schools such as Converse College in Spartanburg, N.C., and Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla., plan to cut tuition by more than 20 percent in the fall of 2014. At the same time, the schools provide fewer aid packages.

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Converse said it will cut tuition rates by 43 percent, dropping its published $29,000 tuition to $16,500. It also will offer less merit aid. Administrators say they expect to attract enough new students that revenue from undergraduate tuition will jump 11.6 percent.

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Concordia University in St. Paul , Minn,, dropped its tuition 10 percent, expecting to draw 24 more students. Some 100 more enrolled.

This philosophy hasn't been universally accepted. Officials at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., dropped plans to reduce tuition costs after market research found most families preferred higher tuition and scholarships over lower tuition and no aid. Instead, administrators chose to freeze tuition.

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"There is a psychological value to a scholarship," said Kevin Crockett, president of Noel-Levitz, a higher-education consultancy.

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