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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas
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Facing the Financial Downturn: Toolkit and Resources for Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities are extraordinarily stable institutions, in part due to their mission and role in our society and in part due to how they operate and are managed. Nonetheless, the current financial downturn is impacting higher education institutions in a wide variety of ways. This page provides resources and tools, including Excel spreadsheets and various templates, to help colleges and universities reconsider what in many cases are long-held assumptions, to seek answers to questions that may not have been asked before, and to think about how these issues will shape their institutions in the months and years ahead.

Overview

Resource Pages

  • Cost-Saving ideas
    Institutions are sharing their ideas to trim expenses in a variety of areas.
  • Economic Stimulus
    Leaders of many higher education associations endorsed a set of recommendations for President Obama and members of Congress.
  • Institutional Liquidity
    This fall, a number of forces collided almost simultaneously to produce concern on campuses throughout the country about the liquidity of their institution’s investments and in some cases led institutions to establish or increase their line of credit.
  • Long-term Investments
    Institutions are reviewing their asset allocation strategies, re-examining their investment manager selections, and scrutinizing their investment portfolio, all while maintaining their primary focus on the long-term success of their investment management tactics and decisions.
  • Long-term Debt
    In light of the credit and debt environment, many universities are actively re-assessing the current structure of their debt portfolio. Some are drafting or revisiting their formal debt policy guidelines, as well as determining appropriate strategies for capital funding, leverage and liquidity management.
  • Balance Sheet Analysis
    Although the full impact of the current economic turmoil is yet to be determined, liquidity and investment holding issues can impact key ratios used by the Department of Education to determine financial health, and thus eligibility to participate in the Title IV program.
  • Insurance and Risk Management
    The downturn offers lessons about risk governance, risk tolerance and the importance of transparency. The chief risk officer’s role is more important than ever. The timing may also be right for introducing some actuarial principles for managing risk exposures.
  • Financial Reporting and Disclosures
    The fall 2008 timing of market declines and liquidity restrictions can have implications for financial statement audits in process. Higher education institutions that have not yet released audited financial statements will need to evaluate the correct balance sheet classification for cash and cash equivalents, possible subsequent event note disclosures, and losses to asset market values.
  • State Appropriations
    At least 21 states have implemented or proposed cuts to public colleges and universities, with reductions ranging from 5 to 15 percent of previously appropriated funding.
  • Fund Raising
    Historically, regular annual growth in the private philanthropic support of colleges and universities has been fairly modestly tempered by periods of economic slowdown, and promptly rebounded as our economy has strengthened.
  • Enrollment Levels
    Colleges and universities are carefully watching spring enrollment, and applications for the incoming freshman class in the fall of 2009, for signs that the economic stress being placed on families will impact their decision to attend college, and whether there will be any market shifts towards lower cost colleges and universities.
  • Student Loan Capital and Demand for Financial Aid
    The financial strains that families are feeling are significant, and are expected to lead to increased demand for financial aid from federal, state and institutional sources.
  • Campus Communications
    Timely, thoughtful, transparent and thorough communications to staff, faculty and students can allay fears and ease the concerns of alumni - ultimately making a positive difference in how the institution is perceived.

NACUBO Contact:

Matt Hamill, senior vice president, advocacy & issue analysis, 202.861.2540