Still reeling from the effects of the economic downturn, a growing number of colleges are taking extreme measures to attract more students by slashing tuition or speeding up graduation rates.

Seton Hall University is one of hundreds of schools that have cut tuition by at least 10% for the upcoming school year. Others are freezing prices and some are offering three-year degree programs.

It's all in response to the rising cost of colleges, according to Tony Pals, spokesman for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. "There's no question that the economic downturn has had a tremendous impact on family finances and private colleges are well aware of this nationwide, so they are taking some big measures to keep classrooms full."

He says these types of initiatives have been used in the past, but with the economy being the way it is, Pals expects them to continue for a few years down the road.

"This isn't some one year deal. This is something that colleges across the country are going to have to look at very carefully."

New Jersey has been doing a decent job at keeping tuition steady at private colleges, but there is a lot more than can be done, says Pals.

"Colleges and universities have to take a look at their own budgets and decide what they can trim and what they need to be able to survive because students have tremendous loans and debt and many can't get by paying for four years of tuition."

While making school more affordable has become a more common approach, he says overall tuition at private colleges has been increasing more than 4% each year over the past three years.