Concordia Cuts Tuition by a Third but Slashes Aid

Tuition will be reduced by $10,000 next year, but as the school also slashes scholarships, lower-need students who are not dependent upon state and federal grants will see the largest reduction in out-of-pocket costs.

Concordia University in St. Paul has bucked the recent trend of rising tuition costs and will slash its tuition by $10,000 next year—although the actual savings experienced by students will be a fraction of that.

Concordia will reduce its tuition by roughly a third—from this year’s $29,700 to $19,700 next year. Meanwhile, the nonprofit university froze this year’s room and board price of $7,750.

The reduced tuition price will be available to both new and existing students, and “nothing will be cut or eliminated from the Concordia educational experience” as a result of the tuition decrease, the school said.

But while Concordia’s “sticker price” may be dropping dramatically, the school is also reducing financial aid in the form of scholarships.

Although typical “high-need” students—those who qualify for a significant amount of federal and state grants—will see their overall tuition drop an estimated $10,000, they could receive about $9,700 less in Concordia aid, according to graphs published on the university’s website. The change will thus result in about $300 in annual out-of-pocket savings for those students.

“Low-need” students, meanwhile, will see their scholarships drop by an estimated $8,500, resulting in an out-of-pocket savings of roughly $1,500, given the $10,000 tuition cut.

According to Kristin Vogel, director of undergraduate admissions, no student—regardless of financial aid needs—will see an increase in out-of-pocket costs next year.

“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,” Concordia President Reverend Tom Ries said in a statement. “We hope that other private colleges and universities will soon be able to follow our lead.”

Concordia is a Lutheran liberal arts university, and it is among the 25 largest colleges and universities in Minnesota based on its overall fall 2011 enrollment, which totaled 2,842. The school’s fall 2012 enrollment ticked up to 2,915.

The school’s traditional undergraduate enrollment, meanwhile, currently totals 1,207. The school expects the tuition decrease to result in modest enrollment growth over the next several years, with a goal of growing its undergraduate student body to about 1,500 by 2017, according to Vogel.