Colleges Are Working To Avoid Tuition Hikes By Cutting Costs

In these difficult economic times, colleges, as well as the parents and students who are paying tuition, are feeling the financial pinch.  Like the families who pay tuition, many colleges are attempting to tighten their budget in order to avoid raising tuition more than necessary.  Many colleges are also committed to maintaining, or even raising, their amount of financial aid to students.  Only 8% of colleges surveyed by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities said that they had plans to reduce their financial aid offerings.

Most colleges and universities have already looked at and instituted some of the big savings strategies also being used by the corporate world as well.  Many have looked to layoffs, halting construction projects, hiring freezes, and salary freezes.  But colleges are also looking for other ways to trim their budgets.

So just how are colleges tightening those budgets?  According to a June 19, 2009 article in the New York Times, colleges are doing what many families are doing: finding the little ways to save costs and hoping that the small savings will add up. They are attempting to find savings that will not adversely affect students.  Many colleges are trying to be as creative as possible in their savings strategies, and many are involving students in the process.  Here are a few of the strategies being tried.

  • Many schools have asked each department to cut its operating budget by 5-10%
  • Some schools are insisting that faculty, staff and administrators do more teleconferencing and cut their travel budgets.
  • Some schools are reducing housekeeping budgets by emptying office wastebaskets every other day or even once a week instead of daily.  They are washing windows less often or reducing the cleaning schedules for offices.
  • One school instituted a “virtual swim meet” by having both schools swim in their home pools and record times and then comparing times.  Both schools saved on travel costs.
  • One school reduced the number of cable channels available to students and saved $75,000 per year.
  • Several schools have limited student use of photocopying and computer printing to $50 or $60 per semester.
  • Some schools are eliminating paper catalogs, brochures and viewbooks and making them available electronically.
  • One school instituted a “Trayless Tuesday” in the cafeteria and then eliminated trays altogether.  They saved $30,000 per semester.
  • Schools are installing low flow shower heads and energy saving lightbulbs.
  • One school held a residence hall competition to see which building could save the most by shutting off unused lights, taking shorter showers, and unplugging appliances and computers when not in use.  A portion of the savings was given back to the winning dorm for a pizza party.
  • Schools are using more tap water and less bottled water at functions.
  • Faculty are instituting brown-bag meetings rather than catered luncheons.
  • Schools are rebuilding old computers, using older vehicles, and eliminating student voicemail as students use only cell phones.

Clearly many schools are using their creativity and ingenuity to attempt to trim their budgets rather than either cuting financial aid or passing along additional costs to families.  Schools are joining the “we’re all in this together” attitude.  One additional benefit of many of the cost saving measures is their positive impact on the environment.  The reduced waste and conscious attitude will help everyone.

You may read the full New York Times article here.

Do you have ideas of other cost-saving measures colleges might try?  Feel free to share them.

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