Since the U.S. recession began, Catholic colleges and high schools across the Albany Diocese have responded by offering more financial aid to more students. High schools continue to offer Advanced Placement and college-level classes, which save parents money by giving students a boost.

This summer, The College of Saint Rose in Albany and Hudson Valley Community College in Troy also announced a partnership: Now, accounting or computer science students can earn three degrees - an associate's, a bachelor's and a master's - in five years.

Students can keep the scholarships and financial aid they receive upon admission to Saint Rose while earning the graduate degree.

Siena College in Loudonville isn't seeking a similar partnership, but it continues to work with community colleges and high schools to accept credits.

"We are very conscious of the cost of attending a four-year private school," said Mary Lawyer, associate vice president for enrollment management at Siena.

Tuition - including room and board - is about $40,000 at Siena; it increases by about $1,000 each year. Between 85 and 95 percent of the 3,000 students have filed for federal aid in recent years. The college gives out $30 million in scholarships each year.

Maria College in Albany, a two-year school that attracts mostly older adults from low-income backgrounds, cites similar statistics. Though Maria's $9,800 annual tuition is the lowest in the Diocese, about 85 percent of students receive financial aid, according to college president Sister Laureen Fitzgerald, RSM.

Catholic Central High School in Troy has made a concerted effort to keep tuition hikes reasonable and retain popular features like honors courses and athletics programs, said Christopher Bott, principal.

Unnecessary spending has been cut, he said; in previous years, projects like tearing down an old fieldhouse and installing new windows made the budget.

CCHS' distribution of financial aid has also increased by about $50,000 in the past four years, though a boost in donations and staff retirements have helped the school's bottom line.

Through its partnership with The University at Albany, CCHS students can graduate with 30 college credits - the equivalent of a year of college. Enrollment has stayed at about 500 students for the past three years.

"I think we're like any other business out there," Mr. Bott said. "We're just waiting to see what's next."