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Land-Grant Universities Consider Restructuring to Cope Budget Crisis

Public universities, including the land grant universities, are being hard hit by the economic downturn. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education today (registration required) reports on a survey of the members of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

Sixty of the 87 responding institutions say that they have experienced cuts to their state appropriations for the 2010 fiscal year, ranging from 5 to 20 percent.

How are the universities responding?

Laying off tenured or tenure-track faculty members was one of the least-common cost-cutting measures taken by responding institutions. Other uncommonly used approaches included redirecting restricted donations, eliminating athletics teams, laying off graduate assistants or student workers, and reducing scholarships.

To bolster their revenue, institutions have increased in-state tuition by a median amount of just over 7 percent, the survey found. The median increase for out-of-state students was close to 6 percent.

Institutions have also plugged their budget gaps with some of the nearly $40-billion in federal stimulus money meant to shore up public-school and higher-education appropriations for the current and coming fiscal cycles.

What does this mean for students planning their college futures?  Well, for students looking to institutions in their home states, be prepared for things like larger classes, reduced administrative support (and efficiency), and cuts to some programs.  Athletes should also research whether their sport may be likely to be cut during their four years–if you sign to a school that then eliminates its program, you’re out of luck.

Students who would like to attend a land-grant institution outside their home state may find it easier to get accepted this year, as institutions scramble to increase revenue by finding out-of-state families willing to pay the full price of admission.  (As always, money talks).

For a full listing of the members of the APLU, go here: http://www.aplu.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=249 .The list includes many of the major public universities in the United States:  UCLA, Berkeley, University of Colorado, University of Connecticut, University of Alabama, etc.), but also a few private universities (notably MIT and Cornell)

Mark Montgomery
Educational Consultant

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