The ‘Public’ in Public College Could Be Endangered

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tags: colleges, higher education, universities

Public colleges and universities are in trouble. Campuses may not reopen this fall, potentially gutting tuition and dormitory revenues. Endowments have been hit by the falling stock market, and alumni donations may dry up. Institutions without a financial cushion will struggle to survive.

Looming ahead is an even bigger problem, one that will last for years after the pandemic itself is over. The severe economic contraction is pummeling state tax revenues. Moody’s Analytics projects a 20 percent decline in state receipts next fiscal year.

If historical patterns repeat, public college and university budgets will be slashed, sending tuition and student loan debt skyward. Some institutions will be so starved of funding that they will effectively cease to be “public” at all. Others will have a greatly diminished ability to help students learn.

Many colleges never fully recovered from the Great Recession. In 2008, commitment to higher learning already varied widely among the states, with spending per student ranging from less than $7,000 in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado to over $10,000 in North Carolina, Massachusetts and New York.

Read entire article at New York Times

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