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To keep preparation for ministry careers as affordable as possible, Aquinas Institute of Theology has announced a three-year freeze on tuition for students who begin to pursue certain degrees in Fall 2007.

In addition, the school will offer tuition breaks to students financially supported by another Catholic agency, add one more full-ride scholarship and increase by more than 75 percent the amount awarded for partial scholarships.

“Our students aren’t here because they want to make millions,” said Fr. Charles Bouchard, O.P., president of Aquinas Institute. “They are here because they realize the need for well-qualified lay ministers in the Church today, and they feel called to serve. We want to do everything we can to help them respond to that call.”

The tuition freeze means that degree-seeking students who enroll for the first time in August will pay the same rate through 2009-2010. Based on a typical annual increase of 4 percent each year, those students will save about $600 their second year of full-time study and about $1,200 their third year.

The school also intends to offer a fifth Presidential Scholarship, which is a 100 percent tuition award to students who show academic promise and potential for ministry. The partial scholarship awards will offer several more students savings that range from 25 percent to 50 percent of tuition.

Finally, students who secure a donation of 33 percent from their parish or diocese will receive a 33 percent grant from Aquinas Institute as well.

Students already enrolled in most degree-seeking programs also will get a break next year. Tuition for them will stabilize at this year’s rate.

The cost of higher education continues to rise nationally. According to data released by the College Board in October, tuition and fees are up 4.4 percent this year at public four-year universities and 5.9 percent at private four-year schools—a rate that exceeds inflation.

“We’re among a handful of schools bucking a trend because we want to be accessible,” Bouchard said. “It is important not only to students who have gifts for ministry but to the Church.”

Aquinas Institute is a Roman Catholic graduate school of theology in Midtown St. Louis where priesthood candidates study alongside vowed religious women and men and laypeople seeking careers in ministry or simply to better understand their faith lives. Find out more at www.ai.edu.

For details about scholarships and academic programs, contact Jared Ainsworth-Bryson, director of admissions, at 314.256.8806, or ainsworth-bryson@ai.edu.

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