Even before the economic news of the last year, I was increasingly convinced that all but perhaps four or five American universities with extraordinary wealth had come to the end of a long period of expansion.
"The Coming College Bubble?" (Forbes, 10/23)
. . . Home builders and banks aren't the only ones facing economic headwinds these days. America's undercapitalized independent colleges are staring at a spiral of major threats to solvency as penny-pinching students and parents consider cheaper options, and funding sources dry up. As a result, they could be the next bubble industry to pop.
The crush is coming fast. According to a September 2008 study by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, of the 504 member institutions surveyed, one-third said the credit crunch had hurt enrollment, and about a fifth of respondents said they had fewer returning students than expected. Roughly the same number said they had a smaller incoming freshman class than expected.
"Seeking Higher Education at Lower Prices". (NY Times, 10/26)
As with any campus tour, you get a lot of numbers at SUNY Binghamton, the top-rated school in the State University of New York system.
There’s the average grade-point average for incoming students (93 or 3.5), the number of applications last year (26,500), the acceptance rate (39 percent), where the metropolitan area ranks in safety among the nation’s midsize cities (11), and where Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranked the university nationally in terms of value (1).
But for the slightly shellshocked parents taking the tour on Friday, peering nervously at the daily disaster on the television screens where the tag on CNN read “Financial Crisis and You,” chances are the number that made the biggest impression was this one: 16,452.
Add a dollar sign, and it’s the annual tuition, fees, room and board at a time when the price tag at most competitive private colleges is nearing $50,000.