Tough times strain colleges rich and poor

Tough economic times have come to public and private universities alike, and rich or poor, they are trying to figure out how to respond, reports the New York Times. Many are announcing hiring freezes, postponing construction projects, or putting off planned capital campaigns. Arizona State University, anticipating at least $25 million in budget cuts this fiscal year–on top of the $30 million already cut–is ending its contracts with as many as 200 adjunct instructors. Boston University, Cornell, and Brown have announced selective hiring freezes. And Tufts University, which for the last two years has, proudly, been one of the few colleges in the nation that could afford to be need-blind–that is, to admit the best-qualified applicants and meet their full financial need–might not be able to maintain that generosity for next year’s incoming class. This fall, Tufts suspended new capital projects and budgeted more for financial aid. But with the market downturn, and the likelihood that more applicants will need bigger aid packages, need-blind admissions might go by the wayside. "The target of being need-blind is our highest priority," said Lawrence S. Bacow, president of Tufts. "But with what’s happening in the larger economy, we expect that the incoming class is going to be needier. That’s the real uncertainty."

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