Community Colleges, State Universities in Massachusetts Face Fiscal Challenges

BOSTON — Massachusetts’ community colleges and state universities, while financially able to operate this year, could face serious financial trouble in coming years, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Massachusetts higher-education officials said the state’s community colleges and four-year institutions, which serve primarily low-income and minority students, will be able to make it through the upcoming fiscal year by drawing on reserves, making budget cuts, and restructuring debt, according to the Boston Globe. But they are likely to run through their financial cushions and face much more difficulty in the years ahead.

The report was issued by consulting firm EY-Parthenon and commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. The state has 15 community colleges, six state universities, and three specialized colleges. The University of Massachusetts system, which does its own financial forcasting, was not included in the report.

EY-Parthenon projected that community colleges face between $27 million to $118 million less in revenue next year, depending on how badly enrollment and state aid falls. For state colleges, the drop could be between $74 million and $248 million.

In the worst-case scenario, the Globe notes, if the institutions see a 20% decline in state funding and an additional 15% drop in tuition and fee revenue from declining enrollments, four community colleges and four state colleges wouldn’t have enough cash next spring to cover one month of expenses. Typically, such schools have enough cash to cover four to six months of expenses.

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