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Markets hurt schools stimulus may help

on Thursday,January 29,2009 22:01

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School revenues may be plunging, but educators hope that the stimulus package will provide relief and prevent further cuts.

Endowments and private contributions are in steep decline - according to a new survey from the National Association of College and University Business Officers, American universities'' endowments declined by an average of 23 percent during the fall of 2008.

"This is the most challenging environment that any of us in higher education have seen in our professional lifetimes," Molly Broad, president of the American Council on Education told the Washington Post, "because of the combination of revenue declines from multiple sources and because of the continuing uncertainty."

The Post stresses a distinction between schools relying heavily on endowments and those which derive most of their income from state aid and tuition fees. The latter are in an admittedly better position, but they, as everyone else, are also forced to introduce cutbacks and hiring freezes.

However, there is a bright spot on the horizon in the form of the stimulus package passed on Wednesday by the House of Representatives. According to the New York Times, the $819 billion package includes up to $150 billion in federal spending over the next two years that will more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.

Separately, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a one-time emergency education aid package worth $125 million, including $13.9 billion to increase the Pell Grant maximum award.
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