Survival of private colleges through COVID-19

By: Megan Finlan ’21, co-editor in chief

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has impacted all industries across America, including higher education. With many colleges and universities being forced to transition to online platforms, enrollment rates at private colleges have begun to drop as high school seniors are choosing to take a gap year or take classes at community colleges to save money. As the virus continues to rage in America, private institutions continue to experience major financial setbacks, and LVC is no exception.

Private colleges and universities are proving to be hit harder than any other form of higher education as COVID-19 has forced schools to send students home and convert to online classes. These institutions are impacted more significantly than public and community colleges because private institutions do not receive any money from state legislatures. As a result, they rely significantly on tuition, room and board fees and private donations. As students are forced to learn remotely and are unable to remain on campus, many private institutions are taking major financial losses with the inability to collect room and board.

Looking at LVC specifically, tuition throughout the pandemic has remained steady at its rate of $46,030 for residents and $45,910 for commuters. For students who live on campus, the cost of room and board sits at approximately $12,500 per year.

While the money the College makes through the cost of tuition goes towards the essentials to keep the school running, the cost of room and board and private donations are what is largely used to make ends meet and invest back into the College. With LVC having the ability to house approximately 1,300 of the 1,600 its enrolled students, it can easily be imagined just how much revenue the College loses by sending its students home before the end of the semester.

Looking at the math, if the College were occupied with 1,300 living on campus, with each student paying $6,250 in room and board per semester, LVC would be dealt an $8 million loss in revenue for the entire semester. How can a college bounce back from such a major loss?

With a decision on whether or not students will return to campus for the spring semester still up in the air, the consequences of such a setback to LVC’s financial standings need to be considered. These consequences include anything from laying off faulty and budget cuts in numerous departments to significantly raising tuition for students.

Even after making necessary financial adjustments to lessen the blow dealt by the unceasing COVID-19 pandemic, how long can colleges like LVC continue to hold on with no end in sight? While the answer to this question remains unclear, the concern over the longevity of many private institutions in America continues to rise.