Published: Sep 19, 2013 9:20 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 19, 2013 10:46 PM EDT

AVE MARIA, Fla - Students at Ave Maria University are getting a big break when it comes to the cost of college.

As tuition at schools across the state goes up, year after year, Ave Maria wants to become more affordable and is actually lowering the cost.

Students welcomed the news Thursday afternoon. "I was ecstatic," says Ave Maria Junior Sean Trymbiski. "You go to school and you have a lot of debt and this helps you out."

For current students, tuition and student fees will freeze, meaning no increase in costs next year.

"Everywhere else it's going up and especially with this school trying to expand and grow it really helps make it more affordable for everyone else who wants to come here," says Ave Maria Junior Tucker Starkey.

But it's incoming students who will see the biggest savings. President James Towey announced the school is breaking away from the norm and cutting tuition by 22 percent.

"We felt with the generosity of our donors and with our continued enrollment increases, we could do this," says Towey.

University officials know this is a bold move, but they say lowering tuition will only help this campus grow.

"This will grow enrollment," says Towey. "And this will continue to maintain the fact Ave Maria is affordable."

How affordable? Next year, tuition will be around $17,000, down from $23,000 this year. WINK News ran the number and looked at the cost of five other schools in Florida and their tuition over the last three years:

                    AVE MARIA        ST. LEO'S       MIAMI            UF            FSU          FGCU


2011-2012      $19, 440           $18, 200       $19,220       $5,656        $5,820      $5,532
                    
2012-2013      $23,000            $18,700        $19,990       $6,142        $6,402      $6,068
 
2013-2014      $17, 940           $19,610        $20,790       $6,263        $6,506      $6,170

"I think the years of big tuition increases are over because I think families in America are demanding action," says President Towey.

President Towey says they the average classroom size will stay at 20 students and the student to teacher ratio will remain at 15 to 1.