Goucher College fell short of its projected net-tuition revenue goals this fiscal year by nearly $2 million, forcing senior staff to make tough budgetary and faculty cuts
in addition to searching for new sources of revenue.
This past academic year, the college contracted with a higher education consulting service called Noel-Levitz to help predict the number of incoming students for the 2013-2014 year. The final goal was 479 first year students and 54 transfer students. With an expected incoming class of 533, the college began to plan the budget incorporating the increased revenue from the incoming class. However enrollment was much lower than anticipated, leaving the college over 90 students short of its goal and with about $2.4 million extra in the budget that they could no longer fund.
The shortfalls in the net-tuition revenue goals, or the total gross tuition Goucher receives minus scholarship, grants and financial aid, has been an issue for private liberal arts colleges throughout the country. And, according to Vice President for Enrollment Management Michael O’Leary, even with the increases in tuition, the current economic situation has resulted in less tuition revenue for the college.
“In the fall of 2011, the average Goucher student provided the college just over $23,000 in net tuition revenue,” O’Leary said. “Fall 2013, it’s just over $18,000. So as prices go up, financial aid goes up. We don’t realize more net tuition revenue through a tuition increase.”
O’Leary explained that each year the college’s discount rate increases because more students need financial aid. In addition, people are questioning the value of going to and paying for a liberal arts college.
“People do not have the home equity they once had in their homes to borrow against and help fund an education,” he explained. “There is a vocal course of people throughout the country who are questioning the value of having a liberal arts education. There is increasing concern on my part, and many people like me, about families’ willingness to pay for private higher education versus their ability to pay. People, in the past, who have the ability to pay, pay.”
In order to offset the deficit, the Board of Trustees agreed to hold at a 5.25 percent spend rate from the college’s endowment, which as of September 30 was an estimated $206 million.