Bucking the trend of annual tuition increases, two small private liberal arts colleges are actually cutting tuition next year — by more than 40 percent.
Utica College in New York and Rosemont College in Pennsylvania are calling it a "tuition reset," and attempting to show that good education and affordability aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
"We've seen prices escalate across the country," Utica President Dr. Todd Hutton told CNBC's "On The Money" in an interview. "We've had escalations and our families simply are hitting a ceiling that they can no longer afford."
Utica and Rosemont's actions buck a national trend of surging tuition. Since the 2008 recession, public university costs have skyrocketed, according to a report this year from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
However, starting next fall, Utica is cutting tuition from about $34,000 this year, to just under $20,000. Meanwhile, Rosemont is dropping its tuition from the current $33,000 to $18,500 next year.
All of which raises the question: how does that math work? How can a college cut tuition nearly in half and survive?
"The math is you reduce your tuition and you reduce your discount rate," explains Utica's Hutton, explaining that the full tuition "sticker price" is not necessarily the amount people are paying.
Rosemont College President Sharon Hirsh told CNBC that the effort was part of an attempt to shift an existing model. "We realized that we, among so many other colleges, were going according to a model that was raising the sticker price at the same time that we had to raise discounts," she said. "And so we've gone from a high sticker price/high discount to a lower sticker price/low discount rate."