A recent survey commissioned by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) has found that seven in 10 higher education institutions in the US are facing financial challenges.
Of over 700 higher education professionals surveyed, 74 percent cited financial constraints as the most significant challenge facing their schools today. Around 60 percent of respondents also admitted that they are very concerned about the overall financial stability of their colleges.
Furthermore, 79 percent of those polled indicated that they are worried about meeting students’ increased financial aid needs, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A number of institutions just won’t survive this,” management consultant Ken Simek told CNBC. “They’ll either merge with other institutions or close their doors altogether.”
Aside from addressing financial issues, 70 percent of respondents said increasing diversity at their school should be a top priority. Improving student retention and completion also emerged as a top priority for academic institutions this year.
Concerns About College Affordability
A separate survey conducted by Citizens Financial Group on more than 2,000 college students indicated that 70 percent of current college students cite college affordability as having a moderate to high impact on their fall 2021 enrollment plans.
“Our annual survey has consistently shown that young adults are worried about their future and the cost of college,” head of student lending at Citizens, Christine Roberts, told CNBC. She added that the company has seen a lot of families discussing the cost of college very early compared to past years.
In addition to college affordability, 36 percent of college students said public health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impact their fall 2021 plans.