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As public anger over college costs continue, and legislators in some states get to work on their budgets, more colleges and universities are promising to freeze or cut tuition—in many cases, on the condition that they receive more taxpayer funding.

Concordia University

The latest schools and systems to dangle promises of lower charges follow a wave of campuses that have already announced them, including Arizona’s public universities.

Concordia University, a private institution in St. Paul, Minnesota, said it would reduce its undergraduate tuition by one third beginning next fall, to $19,700, though financial aid will also be cut and the deal will not be extended to graduate students.

Texas Governor Rick Perry this week formally proposed a four-year tuition freeze for public-university students in that state as a way to increase the proportion of the population with degrees. The cost of attending public universities in Texas has increased 55 percent in the last 10 years, a Dallas Morning News analysis found.

Other governors and boards of trustees are also pushing for tuition freezes.

The Iowa Board of Regents has asked the presidents of the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa to freeze tuition for next year. The universities’ charges have nearly tripled since 2001, to just over $4,000.

In Montana, outgoing Governor Brian Schweitzer has announced that he will propose a tuition freeze in his final two-year budget. As in many other states, however, it would be contingent on the legislature increasing higher-education funding—in Montana’s case, by $34 million, which would come from a $450 million budget surplus.

In Maine, which has already frozen public-university tuition for this year, the system’s board of trustees has called for keeping costs unchanged for two more years, through 2015. That would require the state keeping higher-education spending constant.

The University of Minnesota has also promised to freeze undergraduate tuition if the state increases funding by $91.6 million over the next two years. And the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees will freeze tuition next year if the legislature in that state restores $50 million in state aid it has proposed to cut.

These proposals follow earlier announcements by the University of California system to freeze undergraduate tuition on the condition that voters approve a tax increase next month to raise $8.5 billion for public education and other services.

Other institutions that have promised to keep costs where they are, or lower them, include the University of Massachusetts, University of New Hampshire, and University of Maryland schools of law; the University of the South and University of Charleston; Temple, William Peace, Duquesne, Urbana, Franklin Pierce, and Oklahoma City universities; and Cabrini, Lincoln, Burlington, Ancilla, Tabor, Daytona State, Mount Holyoke, and Pacific Union colleges.

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Jon Marcus writes and edits stories about, and helps plan coverage of, higher education. A former magazine editor, he has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Wired, Medium.com...

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  1. Just wanted to point out that the University of Evansville (I’m the president) announced last month our “Big Freeze,” which includes a tuition freeze and a four-year lock-in for students who start at UE next fall. All current students are included for a period of four-years from they time they matriculated. I’m not sure how we were missed on this list, but wanted to weigh in because our initiative, given the four-year guarantee, will mean substantial savings for our students and their families.

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