ERIC Number: EJ848810
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul-10
Hofstra's Ambitions Confront the Economy
Selingo, Jeffrey J.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n41 pA1 Jul 2009
Last October, when CBS News's Bob Schieffer welcomed 57 million television viewers to Hofstra University for the third presidential debate, the moment marked perhaps the best chance yet for the university to show off its efforts--with the help of some 4,000 journalists to cover the event--to remake itself from a sleepy commuter campus into a trendy urban destination. But just as the university was making final preparations for the debate, another event was unfolding some 25 miles away from this Long Island campus that would play a much bigger role in delaying or derailing Hofstra's move up the academic rankings: the financial collapse on Wall Street. The economic crisis is wreaking havoc on colleges of all types and sizes. But to institutions trying to improve their academic profiles, the recession is causing the worst headaches. For them, tight credit markets, tapped-out donors, and squeezed budgets are threatening a backward slide no one expected. Hofstra thinks it can maintain its momentum and thrust itself into such elite company as George Washington, Boston, and New York Universities. But rather than follow the conventional path of rapidly raising tuition and funneling much of that revenue to merit aid to attract higher-caliber students, Hofstra has taken a more conservative approach. It has steadily increased tuition, but not as quickly as competitors, leaving its $30,130 price tag a relative bargain in the private sector. What's more, the discount rate for freshmen of 29 percent (the proportion of tuition revenue it uses for student aid) lags far behind the national average of 39.8 percent. Such a strategy gives the university the financial head room to raise tuition and student aid when many of its competitors are near a breaking point on both fronts. Whether or not concern about college costs will ease when the economy recovers is anyone's guess. If it doesn't, then Hofstra missed an opportunity to push through sizable tuition increases to pay for its plans. But even if worries about the cost of college lessen, following the well-worn path to a high-tuition, high-aid model could still backfire, as more students look for cheaper sticker prices.
Descriptors: Higher Education, Paying for College, Tuition, Educational Finance, Finance Reform, Economic Impact, Institutional Survival, Financial Problems, Financial Policy, Institutional Characteristics
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A