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Acknowledging declining enrollment, Canisius College dropping tuition 23 percent

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Admitting that enrollment is down and that they're facing competition from other local colleges and New York State's Excelsior tuition program, Canisius College is lowering its cost for full-time undergraduates next academic year.

College president John Hurley on Tuesday announced the private Jesuit college will cut its tuition back to its 2008 level, $27,000 per year, a 23 percent decrease for undergrads. Additionally, the cost for living in a residence hall of campus will be reduced by $2,000.

"It gives us an ability to show a family how a Canisius education can be affordable. We're hoping that a lower published price will attract more interest and will encourage them to explore the opportunity," Hurley said.

He acknowledged competition among more than two dozen local colleges and universities and also New York State's Excelsior program, which provides conditional free tuition. 

The catch with the state's program is that a student receiving free tuition must work in New York for every year he or she got the free assistance. Not doing so essentially turns that free tuition into a loan which must be repaid. 

WBFO asked Hurley if Canisius might pitch that its tuition decrease comes with no such condition.

"We've heard from families and students about the strings on the Excelsior program. That is an issue," he replied. "We're trying to address it and make this a very straightforward, clear presentation to students and families."

Hurley says returning students, who typically see a three percent increase year to year, will enjoy savings because that increase will now come from a lower base.

"Returning students will see an adjustment in their current financial aid package, but everyone will see some level of savings based on their own individual financial circumstances. Going forward, because tuition increases will be calculated off a lower base, students will save more," Hurley said.

Financial aid packages, scholarships and grants will still be offered. Officials say no academic programs will be cut.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.