Colleges affected by economic downturns
As a result of the market downturn, many industries have seen their companies folding, and the academic world is no exception. The economic deterioration has also led to the closing of several small independent colleges—some of which were established more than a century ago.
The independent and private Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio recently shut down for the 2008-09 school year, after having operated for 157 years. Administrators in Antioch, which charges a tuition of $40,000 and admitted 60 students this year, reported that they were unable to admit enough students to run successfully.
Antioch may reopen in 2012 if its situation improves. Administrators also mentioned that they may merge with other small universities, to jointly save one another from closing down.
In the 2007 National Association of Colleges and Universities Study, Washington University reported a $5.42 billion endowment—a high figure for the University’s medium sized student body of roughly 6,000 undergraduates and 6,000 graduates.
Other independent colleges that lack an endowment as large as that of the University, however, may see financial problems in weathering current economic woes in the future.
As numerous American families of all economic statuses have seen financial troubles recently, contributions to universities have decreased accordingly—which in turn has led to a greater need for financial aid. In response, more students have decided to attend lower-cost state universities instead of more prestigious private institutions.
With college tuition increasing by more than three times the rate of inflation for the last two decades, less and less families and students are able to afford education from private universities. Much more affordable are community colleges, which still remain a frequently considered option for many college-bound students.
A recent article from Forbes magazine noted the irony in seeing colleges close to troubles, since higher education can often help an economy rebound from its downturns in the market.
Many students, like junior Roger Chang, are concerned that the recent economic slump will play a large role in the near future of college education.
“I expected that colleges would have to be affected by the markets. After all, a school’s endowment is directly linked to its investments,” Chang said. “I’m just glad I go to a school like Wash. U. I would hate to have to just stop going somewhere and abruptly begin a transfer search.”
Saad Hasan, a junior from West Virginia – a state that boasts a number of small independent colleges – believes that a good college education is necessary for most Americans.
“That is just the type of negative attitude [in the economy] which causes a widening loss of faith. A college education is an integral ingredient to the American dream. It will surely open opportunities to those that believe in it,” Hasan said.