Spring 1994 Journal: Financial Pressures Bearing Down on Colleges and Their Students

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Spring 1994

BOSTON — As New England appears poised to emerge from the economic thicket, the region’s colleges and universities and their students continue to face fierce financial pressures, according to a series of articles to be published next week in CONNECTION: NEW ENGLAND’S JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
CONNECTION is the journal of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE).
The new issue features essays by distinguished New England educators and others on trends in tuition, state support for higher education, endowments and financial aid, as well as commentaries on science education, town-gown relations and the future of university presses.
A summary of articles follows:

COIN OF THE REALM • NEBHE President John C. Hoy notes that virtually all New England colleges and universities are tuition-driven, but questions how long students and their families will sustain rising tuition costs. Between 1982 and 1991, personal income grew by 99 percent in New England, while average tuition rates shot up 134 percent at public institutions and 127 percent at private institutions.

A HIGH-STAKES BET ON THE FUTURE • David W. Breneman, a visiting professor at Harvard University and former president of Kalamazoo College in Michigan, warns that no income source — tuition, endowment, private giving, state or federal appropriations — is likely to grow enough to allow higher education to solve its budget problems on the revenue side alone.

FINANCIAL AID: THE BUMPY ROAD AHEAD • Bates College Vice President for Administrative Services and Admissions Dean William C. Hiss explains what one New England campus is doing to cope with steady increases in the number of families qualifying for financial aid. Hiss acknowledges that the long-revered policy of admitting students regardless of financial need involves insupportable fiscal risks for some colleges and universities. “We don’t like making need-based decisions,” writes Hiss, “but we prefer that to making aid awards that would require budget cuts or to meeting only partial needs of students.”

TUITION FUTURES IN NEW ENGLAND • Rhode Island’s former Higher Education Commissioner Eleanor M. McMahon explains one way five New England states are helping families cope with rising college costs. Since 1988, McMahon reports, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont have sold a combined $1.2 billion in tax-free college savings bonds, which will be worth about $2.6 billion upon maturity.

DIRECT LENDING: IS NEW ENGLAND’S STUDENT LOAN INDUSTRY LIVING ON BORROWED TIME? • CONNECTION Associate Editor Julie Lanza examines the new Federal Direct Student Loan Program. But she warns that the most sweeping experiment in higher education financing in 30 years will eliminate the traditional role of the multibillion-dollar student loan guaranty industry — and possibly a lot of New England jobs.

NEW ENGLAND’S ENDOWMENT WEALTH IS ENORMOUS … AND ENORMOUSLY SKEWED • A NEBHE analysis reveals that while the total market value of endowments held by New England colleges and universities grew from $3.6 billion in 1977 to an estimated $20 billion today, the majority of the region’s students are endowment have-nots. The study shows that New England’s total endowment wealth amounts to $25,235 per full-time student on average. But half of all New England college students attend institutions with endowment levels below $976 per student — a level that NEBHE reports is “insufficient to support more than 1 percent of all institutional expenditures.”

FINANCING PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION IN NEW HAMPSHIRE • University System of New Hampshire Chancellor William J. Farrell explains why legislators in Concord last year made a historic decision to end the 12-year decline in the New Hampshire state government’s share of the university system’s operating budget.

MAINE COALITION HALTS BUDGET SLIDE • John J. O’Dea, the Senate chair of the Maine Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education, recounts the ups and downs of higher education funding in Maine.

WHAT SCIENTIST SHORTAGE? • Kevin Aylesworth, the founder of the Young Scientists’ Network, lambastes science policymakers for spreading “poorly supported tales of an actual or ‘impending’ shortage of scientists and engineers.” Aylesworth charges that the rhetoric has created a substantial oversupply of technical talent. In physics, for example, Aylesworth says, universities are producing about two Ph.D.s for every job opening.

WHERE THE JOB ENGINE IS REVVING UP: EMPLOYMENT IN EMERGING HIGH-TECH COMPANIES • CONNECTION looks at a study by Corporate Technology Information Services (CorpTech) of Woburn, Mass., and detects the whir of job creation among emerging New England firms that manufacture computer software and hardware, subassemblies and components, telecommunications equipment and environmental technologies.

ENGINEERING EDUCATION’S 21st CENTURY CREDO: • Bernard M. Gordon, the president and chairman of Analogic Corp. and founder of the Gordon Institute of Tufts University, offers a new prescription for engineering education. “Rather than being well-rounded and well-grounded,” Gordon writes, “young engineers of the 1990s are often over-specialized and conditioned to succeed only within narrowly defined areas. In place of grit, ingenuity, and commitment has come complacence and an expectation on the part of many younger professionals that solutions will be easy and automatic, and rewards substantial.”

TOWN MEETS GOWN IN NEW HAVEN • Former New Haven Mayor John C. Daniels reflects upon relations between one of the nation’s poorest cities and one of its wealthiest institutions. “Yale and New Haven both are aware that the city’s problems are the university’s problems as well, and that each must work constructively and creatively with the other to ensure a positive future,” Daniels writes. But there’s work to do. For starters, Daniels urges Yale to enroll more New Haven residents, especially African-Americans.

PRESSING DEMANDS: THE FUTURE OF UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING • CONNECTION Associate Editor Julie Lanza explores the future of academic publishing in New England. University presses account for almost 20 percent of the books published in the United States, but enjoy only 2 percent of the total profits from U.S. book publishing. As the budgets of colleges and universities and their libraries dwindle, Lanza says the small world of academic publishing is getting smaller.

SCHOOL TIES: COLLEGES AND SCHOOL REFORM • Massachusetts Undersecretary of Education Andy S. Gomez warns that efforts to bring schools and colleges together to improve education often produce cultural conflicts that can stall, even sink, the most determined collaborative efforts.

REWARDING FACULTY WHO TEACH • Susan A. Holton, a communication professor at Bridgewater State College and founder of the Massachusetts Faculty Development Consortium, examines the teaching vs. research debate and finds some New England institutions are developing “a sense of community among faculty members who are interested in teaching excellence.”


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