Increasing Enrollment, Decreasing Revenue for Private Colleges

An Inside Higher Ed article suggests that the recession-catalyzed increase in college enrollment may not mean what we think it means for private colleges:

Private colleges bolstered financial aid and decreased selectivity to help sustain enrollment in a downward economy, but a significant number still expect tuition and fee revenues to decline this year, according to a survey released today by Moody’s Investors Service.

Nearly 30 percent of the 100 private colleges that responded to Moody’s survey project their net tuition and fee revenues to fall in the 2010 fiscal year, which began in July at most institutions. The percentage of colleges reporting anticipated revenue declines is higher than in recent years, when an average of fewer than 10 percent of those surveyed recorded decreases.

The results of the survey suggest that private colleges, which tended to increase tuition more modestly this year, have taken a financial hit even though undergraduate enrollment actually increased on most campuses. Indeed, 73 percent of those surveyed showed enrollment growth, and at one unnamed institution enrollment increased by 15.4 percent, the report notes.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.