Universities nationwide bear brunt of financial strain

Olivia Gschwind

   The College of William and Mary announced September 3 that it would cut several athletic programs after the 2020-2021 season due to financial concerns surrounding COVID-19. The decision to cut the program will impact 113 student-athletes from men’s and women’s gymnastics, volleyball, men’s indoor and outdoor track & field, and swimming.

   Announcements like these are becoming more common as universities across the country face the financial strain from the pandemic. MacMurray College, a private liberal arts institution, announced in May that it would be closing its doors for good. Refunding partial tuition and room and board after last school year’s sudden disruption has put schools in financial jeopardy, which was then exacerbated in some cases by additional loss of revenue following the cancellation of profitable spring sports.

   The 2 trillion dollar rescue bill signed by President Trump will allocate 14 billion to higher education, but the American Council called it “woefully inadequate”, according to CBS News, which reported that the Association was requesting 50 billion to help withstand the strain due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, even notable Ivy League schools like Yale and Brown have notified staff of hiring freezes and possible “significant losses in revenue”.

   “The [current situation] makes me nervous because of all the uncertainty,” commented Isabella Antonio, a senior currently going through the college admission process, “I don’t know how the financial strain will impact my experience and college, so [I] have to play it by ear.”

   The questions surrounding what budget cuts may look like in the future is a concern for many fall applicants as they prepare to apply. Many are going into the process with more limited information or having to rely on online resources instead of being able to visit campus in-person. 

   In an interview with WBUR, former MacMurray College President Beth Rodgers called for universities and colleges to take this situation as an opportunity to adapt. 

   “Higher education is not nimble. We are steeped in tradition, and we are not always able to move as quickly as we need to. There needs to be a remake of higher education as a business model, in my opinion.”