Some Baltimore-Area Schools Are Financially Fit… And Some Are Not

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If you’ve paid a tuition bill lately, you may find it difficult to believe that many colleges and universities are at risk of running out of money. But according to Forbes, many schools — especially those considered “non-elite” — are having trouble keeping their endowments up, attracting students, and offering a high quality education at the same time. “In some ways colleges operate like prestige-seeking liquor brands,” Matt Schifrin writes. “In other ways they are more like Macy’s offering regular sales days, only quietly.” According to the magazines’ “financially fit schools” ranking, only two Baltimore-area universities can consider themselves A or B students when it comes to having healthy finances.

Unsurprisingly, the most financially stable school in the area is the resource-rich Johns Hopkins, which got a solid “A” score from Forbes. The private Goucher College followed not far behind, garnering a B+ (that Ross Perot money probably helps). MICA got a B- (art students aren’t necessarily the best investment, but then again most people who can afford art school have some money to begin with…), as did Notre Dame. Loyola was the lowest-ranking school on the list with a solid C. Although plenty of schools fared worse, Loyola’s situation — it’s a small-ish private university that attracts students with decent, but not great, test scores — is exactly that of many of the struggling schools that Forbes identified. Basically, they’re having trouble standing out from the pack… and their finances are following suit.

On the whole, Baltimore area schools fared better than many; 107 schools that Forbes ranked got a D, and a full 925 earned Cs or below. In explaining his school’s money woes to Forbes, the president of Iowa’s Drake University pointed out that “In many ways it’s [a business ] that’s dependent on the decision-making behavior of 17-year-olds.” That certainly does explain some of the problems, I suppose!

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