Religious educational institutions may offer more affordable alternative for students

Although earning a college degree has never been more important to succeed in today's challenging economy, the costs associated with going to college have never been higher. In an attempt to encourage students to fill out college applications and earn a degree, many religious universities are offering lower tuition fees and other financial incentives, according to CNN Money.

Some schools with religious affiliations are reducing the cost of attending by double-digit percentages, capping the maximum amount of tuition or offering substantial discounts based on how well students perform. These measures could prove tempting for many seniors who are looking for affordable ways of earning their degrees.

"Brewton-Parker, like many other Christian-affiliated schools, is private and we have to have new students coming in," Mike Simoneaux, president of Brewton-Parker University in Georgia, told the news source. "We recognized that in order to stay competitive we had to find ways to lower our tuition and not our quality."

Other institutions are offering similar incentives. Duquesne University in Pennsylvania is reducing tuition by 50 percent to students filling out college applications for its School of Education, and Seton Hall University in New Jersey is reducing tuition by as much as 61 percent for students who meet certain academic criteria. Cabrini College, another Catholic university in Pennsylvania, plans to reduce tuition rates by 12.5 percent and cap them until at least 2014 to encourage students to attend the school.

Such measures could not come at a better time. Despite religious-affiliated universities taking steps to reduce the cost of earning a college degree, many private institutions are increasing costs. But why?

According to a blog post by financial expert Felix Salmon published by Reuters, many colleges are raising tuition due to cuts in federal education spending. Salmon reports that, according to a study by the Delta Cost Project, tuition fees at private colleges have risen by 32 percent from 1999 to 2010. Although faculty wages are a significant amount of what colleges spend, faculty salaries only increased by 5.6 percent during this same time period. Salmon writes that due to reductions in state funding, many private schools have increased tuition to compensate.  

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