To boost student enrollment, colleges are cutting tuition

(CBS News) LINCOLN, Ill. -- College costs are still going up but not as fast as they had been. On Wednesday, the College Board reported the average tuition at private schools this year is just over $30,000 -- up $1,100 since last year. That 2.9 percent increase is the smallest in nearly 40 years. More surprising is that some universities are even cutting tuition.

John Blackburn is the president of Lincoln College in Illinois. CBS News

"The first question many students and parents ask is, 'What's it cost?'" said John Blackburn, president of Lincoln College, a small private liberal arts school in central Illinois.

A couple of years ago, the institution decided to cut tuition 24 percent.

"The school -- like every other school -- was seeing some declining enrollment and we were wanting to compete for students," explained Blackburn. "On the other side, it was a pretty tough economic time and we knew students and families were struggling with the cost of college.

Brad Williams, a sophomore at Lincoln College, said the tuition cut helps him. CBS News

At Lincoln, tuition dropped from $23,000 to $17,500. "The tuition really helped a lot," said sophomore Brad Williams, "because my dad helps pay for my college, and I take out loans, as well."

Across the country, at least 10 schools have cut or plan to cut their tuition significantly.

This year, for example, Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota cut tuition by $10,000. Next year, Converse College in South Carolina announced it will reduce its tuition by 43 percent. Twenty-nine colleges and universities have also frozen their tuition.

"I think it allowed us to be more selective," said Blackburn. "We had a bigger pool of students to choose from."

More colleges may need to follow suit. Higher education is starting to learn it's a buyers market.

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  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.