The Financial Downturn and Its Impact on Higher Education Institutions

Source: National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) in Partnership with the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities (AGB), 2008

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.

The financial challenges described below are among the most pressing in recent times and will call on presidents, chief financial officers (CFOs) and boards to work together to address the near-term fiscal impact on the institution’s operations as well as longer term consequences.

Following the narrative is a series of questions that decision makers are asking of themselves and colleagues as they work through the current uncertain environment. Not all questions will apply to every institution equally. However, effective oversight, management and stewardship mandate that institutional leaders are able to assure themselves and their constituencies that thorough analysis and full consideration have been applied in posing questions, providing answers and making decisions.

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