Starting next year, law students at the University of St. Thomas will pay a flat fee for all three years, and tuition will be frozen at $36,843 a year.

The law school, which is based in Minneapolis, has not raised its tuition since the fall of 2012.

The move, announced Wednesday, reflects growing concern about the cost of graduate school - as well as a nosedive in applications in the last three years. As of this summer, the St. Thomas law school had 59 percent fewer applications than in 2010.

"We need to do whatever we can to keep the cost of legal education under control," said Robert Vischer, the dean of the law school. Tuition will freeze for all current students as well, officials say.

In the past, law students paid per credit; under the new program, they'll pay the same flat fee each year.