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COLUMBIA - Students at Stephens College will be paying a lot less for tuition starting next school year.

The maximum annual tuition will fall by $8,250 to $22,500.

"Everybody's really excited and proud of their college for making such a powerful move," said Dr. Brian Sajko, the vice president for enrollment management.

Sajko said the affordability plan has been in the works for about two years.

"It's really the lowest price in our area of private colleges," he said. "Now more people can take advantage of it."

Graduating senior Haylee Johnson said she's excited for the students who will come after her.

"If this brings more girls to Stephens I think it's going to be a really rewarding thing," she said.

Junion Phoenix Bussey said the tuition decrease will make her situation easier next year.

"I work a full-time job as well as I'm a student, and I have a cat that I have here on campus. So I'm trying to provide for myself as well as him," she said. "Knowing that the budget has cut down is a lot less stress on myself so I can focus more on school work and less on finances."

Tiffany Goalder, the director of undergraduate admissions, received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the school. She said when she talks to people about Stephens College, their number one issue is cost.

"It's rising across the board at lots of institutions. We took it upon ourselves to ask: what can we do to make a difference? And we did, we were able to do it," she said. 

The college will still offer merit and need-based scholarships. Room and board prices will remain the same.

Sajko said the college hopes being more affordable will make it accessible to more people.

"The idea was: How can more people understand that it's something they can be a part of," he said.