In the midst of enrollment challenges, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia is lowering tuition by 37% starting next year.

University officials announced Wednesday that freshman entering the private school in fall 2018 will pay tuition and fees totaling $25,000 down from $39,994 this year. The announcement came after both Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings revised USciences outlook to negative from stable in March citing revenue challenges due largely to enrollment pressures. The school has an estimated $191 million in debt outstanding, according to Fitch.

USciences debt is rated BBB-plus by Fitch and A3 by Moody’s.

A rendering for a planned new residence hall at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
A rendering for a planned new residence hall at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. University of the Sciences

Patricia Vanston, vice president for business development and enrollment management, said the goal of the tuition rollback is to increase transparency. The lowered tuition does not include room and board.

“In general, all students and parents will know exactly what to expect to pay for their USciences education,” said Vanston in a statement. “There will be no hidden fees, price increases, or surprises during the course of their education.”

USciences follows three other private colleges in the Philadelphia region who have announced cuts in undergraduate tuition prices since 2016. LaSalle University cut tuition 29% from $40,400 to $28,800 starting for the fall 2017 semester. Two other area private Catholic institutions, Rosemont College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. and Immaculata University in Malverne, Pa. also slashed tuition last year.

USciences university issued $61.6 million in revenue bonds through the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development in the spring to help finance a new 426-student residence hall. Just before the bond sale, Fitch downgraded $118 million of the school’s outstanding bonds issued by the Pennsylvania Higher Educational Facilities Authority by one notch from A3 .

USciences was founded in 1921 as the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and was awarded university status in 1998. It enrolled 2,362 full-time students in the fall of 2016 with a 6.8% drop in undergraduate students over a five-year period, but a 43% increase in graduate enrollment seen in that same period, according to Fitch. The university's endowment was $158.7 million as of June 30, 2016.

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