Higher education is experiencing more turbulence than ever before–changing and making business and finance models increasingly complex. As it stands now, higher education systems operate off a combination of tuition, philanthropy, investments, public funding and research dollars.

Yet, with enrollment patterns steadily declining and both state and federal funding decreasing, colleges and universities nationwide are struggling to keep education affordable for students, while also maintaining revenue and enrollment levels.

Where does this hit the hardest? Smaller community colleges outside of major urban areas can have less access to capital, so they suffer more financially than their four-year university counterparts. As the majority of community colleges are public institutions or not-for-profit organizations, they rely almost completely on state funding for their entire budget and annual planning.

In fact, community colleges often do not have the same luxury of receiving research dollars, endowments or generous alumni donations, as their students often only attend for a couple of years before moving on to the workforce or other educational systems.

For them, an ever-decreasing financial pie gets stretched even further. Determining a strategy on how to make up for that revenue loss is absolutely crucial for their future. Without an effective and sustainable financial structure, community colleges will fall behind in this volatile education market, which is where cloud technology can help.

Cloud technology can provide:

1. Visibility into governing dollars: Higher education systems, because of their funding structures, often operate as separate governing entities – responsible for their own financial planning and reporting. However, too many community colleges are still relying on spreadsheets and are not properly equipped to provide the high-level financial reporting needed to create in-depth profit and loss statements, which makes it nearly impossible to clearly outline allocations of their funds for stakeholders and even enrolled students.

With cloud-based enterprise performance management (EPM) solutions that take scenario planning to a new level, community colleges are better able to meet statutory and management reporting requirements, providing increased visibility into where funding is coming from, how much they are receiving, any tuition changes and fluctuating student aid amounts. This helps them to become more efficient and effective with timely allocation of public and private dollars.

(Next page: 2 more ways cloud technology cuts costs)

About the Author:

Hari Sankar is group vice president for EPM product management at Oracle.


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