Some universities buck trend, cut tuition for students

A slew of swanky private schools and public universities merrily, myopically raised tuition once again this fall. At the University of Washington, for example, tuition and fees are up some 15 percent from last year. Basic tuition at Cornell University costs close to $2,000 more this year.

The gravy train of perpetually rising college costs may be coming to an end, though. Many schools — particularly public schools — have decreased their rates of increase in response to the comatose economy.

For example, tuition at state-funded colleges and universities in Virginia increased by a relatively meager 4.1 percent in 2012. That’s down from an increase of nearly eight percent in 2011 and it’s the lowest rate of increase in the past decade.

In-state tuition at Rutgers University will increase 2.5 percent this year. Rutgers students (and their parents) aren’t happy about the higher price but it sure beats the tuition increases of eight percent or more students previously routinely suffered during the last decade.

A number of schools have implemented tuition freezes. Tuition at both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University is unchanged from last year. Undergraduate tuition and fees at the University of Texas at Austin will pause at just under $5,000 per semester for the next two years. Students at Maine’s seven public universities are also enjoying a tuition freeze (the first in the Pine Tree State in 25 years).

In the private-school realm, Mount Holyoke College, a prestigious all-women’s bastion in Massachusetts, and Kendall College, a for-profit outfit in Chicago for future chefs, are among several schools that have recently announced some variation of a tuition freeze.

In what could be either a harbinger of the future higher education bubble or a meaningless flash in the pan, a handful of undergraduate schools around the country have actually cut tuition for the upcoming year as well.

Here are six of them.