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The nation's colleges and universities continue to suffer financially.

According to a survey scheduled for release this week by the American Council on Education, 57 percent of higher-education institutions experienced mid-year budget cuts during the 1991-92 academic year. That compares with the 45 percent of schools reporting such cuts during the 1990-91 academic year.

In the 1991-92 academic year, 73 percent of public two-year colleges, 61 percent of public four-year colleges, and 35 percent of independent institutions reported such cuts, according to the survey, "Campus Trends 1992.'' It is the ninth annual such report prepared by the A.C.E.

Those cuts came on top of reductions that already had been made to the operating budgets of many institutions--47 percent of public four-year colleges and 43 percent of public two-year colleges reported having less money to work with in 1991-92 than the year before.

To compensate, institutions are raising tuition, reducing course and section offerings, and seeking greater efficiency in some departments, the report says.

Nevertheless, the survey indicates that for the first time in several years, first-time enrollment increased at all levels of higher education, signaling the end to two years of decline in first-time enrollment.

Fifty-three percent of the institutions surveyed said they experienced an increase in first-time enrollment in 1992, up from 42 percent in 1991 but still below the 55 percent reporting a rise in 1989.

The colleges and universities also reported that more students are seeking financial assistance, more are taking courses on a part-time basis, and more are taking longer to complete their studies.

Copies of the study are available from the American Council on Education, Division of Policy Analysis and Research, 1 Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036-1193. The cost for members is $10 each for up to 10 copies and $8 each for larger orders; the cost to nonmembers is $13 each for up to 10 copies and $11 each for larger orders.

A New Jersey businessman, saying he wanted to give something back to his state, last month announced that he is giving Glassboro State College a gift of $100 million--the largest donation ever to a public college or university.

College officials said that in recognition of the gift from Henry Rowan, the chief executive officer of Inductotherm Industries Inc. of Rancocas, N.J., the institution will change its name to Rowan College of New Jersey.

Previously, the largest known donation to a public institution was a gift to the University of Houston valued at $51.4 million. Louisiana State University is benefiting from a $125-million trust fund established for the institution in 1983 and administered by an outside foundation, but because the fund is tied to the volatile gas and oil industries, its value has diminished, according to some estimates.

Emory University, a private institution in Atlanta, received a $105-million donation in 1979.

Officials of the college said the endowment will be used to establish a school of engineering, to create visiting professorships, and to establish a scholarship fund for the children of Inductotherm employees.

Student athletes graduate at nearly the same rate as regular students, and white and black student-athletes graduate at higher rates than their same-race peers who do not participate in athletics, according to a survey released last month by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The survey of 1,069,683 students in 1983 and 1984 found that 52 percent graduated within six years of initial enrollment. About 51 percent of the 26,589 student-athletes who received grants-in-aid who were among those surveyed graduated within that time frame, the survey found.

The graduation rate for black students in general was 31 percent, but for black student-athletes it was 35 percent. For whites, the overall graduation rate was 55 percent, while the rate for student-athletes was 58 percent, the report says.

Students were surveyed from a range of institutions around the country. The survey was conducted before the N.C.A.A. implemented its Proposition 48 academic standards for student-athletes, and is the first to break down graduation rates by race.

Meanwhile, at a media seminar held in Washington in June, the N.C.A.A.'s executive director, Richard Shultz, said that over the next few years the nation's colleges and universities will consider basing athletic scholarships on a student's financial need.

"I have heard a lot of conversation in the last six months about need-based aid,'' Mr. Shultz said. "I think the college presidents are going to be viewing that as perhaps one way of dealing with some of the financial challenges that are out there.''

He said institutions would have to deal with the actual costs of attendance, rather than simply room, board, books, and tuition.

The Big 10 Conference unilaterally offered need-based aid in the 1950's and 1960's but later abandoned the process. The issue was raised again in the 1980's because of financial constraints on athletic departments, but institutions did not abandon the practice of offering purely athletic scholarships.--M.P.

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