College Bound Students Making Difficult Budget Choices

Dr. Stephen Jones

Most students have come to expect an annual rise in tuition.  The cost of a college education can increase from 3.5 percent to 6.0 percent.  Increasing cost of energy and the struggle to compete with colleges that have large endowments is putting colleges out of reach for certain students.  Colleges are obligated to increase their level of security.  Parents expect a safe environment for students who are in urban and rural communities.  Many colleges are offering a wide range of transportation options for students.  Some colleges are establishing contracts with transportation companies who will manage on-campus buses and schedules.  Students can feel safe traveling from the main campus to local residents in their community.

 The changing economy is putting new demands on college budgets. Students are applying to five colleges to increase their chances of getting admitted and to identify the least expensive college.  Colleges are facing challenges in terms of reaching their enrollment goals because students are not making a firm decision right away.  Students need to have options when they consider the cost of earning a four year degree.  Students must consider the cost of travel to colleges that are far away.  This can lead to an inability to travel home frequently.

 Colleges are obligated to meet the requirements of the accrediting agencies that approve their curriculum. Some college presidents are increasing the number of professors and research activities to ensure that their college is reaccredited.  Additional research can require millions of dollars in an institution’s resources.  Students will not enroll in a college that is not accredited.  Also, outstanding professors will not aspire to work in a college that is not highly regarded in various aspects of a colleges’ curriculum.  

 Colleges are offering online courses to students who need an alternative education choice.  The students can benefit by eliminating the cost of traveling to the campus for a three hour course.  Some students enjoy the online courses because they can meet people who are in locations around the world.  The online courses are unique because they can be delivered at the time of the instruction and it can also be recorded for later student viewing.  Colleges gain an advantage because they can offer online courses of professors who are on sabbatical.  More online courses can be expected within the next five years.  As these courses expand they can reach the international audiences of students, instructors and researchers.  The possibilities for international exchanges of information are limitless.

 College stability is essential to the competitive edge that the United States maintains in its workforce.  We are faced with the possibility of closing colleges who cannot keep up with their enrollment goals.  This is particularly worrisome for colleges that do not have large endowments.  College administrators must come up with a new paradigm regarding how they will work.  For example due to the recent oil crises several colleges created a four day work week.  College employees worked ten hours each day and did not work on Friday.  Difficult college budget challenges should inspire innovative approaches to educate future generations of leaders. For more infromation vist or call 610-842-3843.