Could it be the start of a college price war?
The president of the University of Charleston told CNBC Tuesday the West Virginia college will cut tuition 22 percent next year to draw students who might otherwise be unable to afford college.
He said small colleges like his are also facing increasing competition from private education companies.
"We are taking this move because we're concerned about conceptions middle-class families have about private college tuition being out of reach, and we wanted to make a statement that that’s not the case," Edwin Welch said.
The college, founded in 1888 and with about 1,400 students, will charge $19,500 in tuition next year to incoming full-time students, he said.
"I believe the consumer, the parents and families will be looking more at price and there will be deep concern for trying to be competitive," he said. "There are competitors that didn’t exist 10 years ago and that have changed our environment. We’re trying to respond to that environment."
He said high tuition and the resulting high amount of financial-aid debt "doesn’t fit the current circumstances where there is so much concern about the price of college."
Welch stressed that cutting tuition won't affect the quality of education at his college.
"We’ve been a leader before so we’re not changing anything we’re doing except for the price," he said.