- Several New England colleges are stretched financially as expenses rise and enrollment declines, and tuition is unable to provide the percentage of revenue they need to survive, according to the Boston Globe.
- The paper's review of the most recent federal data on college finances names several institutions that are in a difficult financial bind as they rely increasingly on tuition revenue that is shrinking.
- It highlights The College of St. Joseph in Vermont, which gets 90% of its revenue from tuition but is now only covering 58% of the annual budget with it. It notes that the problem is national in scope, but that it is more prominent in New England where its many small private colleges have been a big part of local communities and their economies.
An earlier report by The Boston Globe had shown that among 75 New England colleges with more than 100 students slightly more than half saw enrollment drop from 2012-2016, 18 of them by more than 20%. Tuition comprised 70% or more of revenue for about 90% of them. (Last year Harvard got 20% of its revenue from tuition) For more than half of the colleges, tuition was regularly covering less of their expenses.
About 11 small colleges closed nationwide last year but the investment firm Moody's has predicted more will close this year, noting that expenses will continue to outpace revenue for at least a year. It reported that federal policy, state funding levels and student engagement in college attendance are all uncertain.
To respond, some colleges are collaborating in new ways or merging. In Connecticut, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania plans for mergers have been discussed or adopted. Georgia has consolidated what was once 35 public higher education institutions down to 26 in one of the most expansive efforts to tackle the problem.
Others are finding they have to bolster recruitment and seek students in new regions or recruit other types of students at the schools from which they do typically draw.
Meanwhile, some have looked carefully at retention of students, with new methods of measuring how happy they are at the college and whether they are remaining mentally and physically heathy.