The economy has started to recover, and university administration says Bradley has weathered the worst of it.
“We had to tighten our belt and be more careful,” Vice President for Business Affairs Gary Anna said. “But in theory, you only go to college once. We have done everything we can to preserve that experience.”
Anna said the stress on students was obvious. “We had the sense that a lot of parents were getting second mortgages to finance their children’s
educations, and 95 percent of our students currently receive some sort of financial aid,” he said. “That’s probably our highest number yet. We had to see what students really enjoyed and what helped them relax, like Late Night BU, for example, and we had to protect that.”
Bradley cut nearly $2 million out of the budget without any major distractions to the education process, Anna said.
“We cut back on unnecessary travel and have used more things electronically, such as the course catalog that is now online,” he said. “Those things aren’t huge, but they all add up.”
One of the major economic hurdles Bradley has had to overcome
was the possibility of losing the Monetary Award Program last year.
“[That program] had been under pressure,” Anna said. “Six million dollars for Bradley students
were in trouble. If the MAP Grant had gone away, we don’t know what we would have done.”
Anna said at the lowest economic
dip, the university’s typical $250 million endowment was at a staggering $150 million, but as of the end of August, it is back up to $211 million.
“We don’t pretend that Bradley is cheap, but we have been pretty careful with tuition dollars,” Anna said. “Our value becomes more important to people. And we have good mechanisms. It’s not like we’ve had to lower our tuition to appear more attractive.”
Economics professor Jannett Highfill said the economic outlook is more optimistic now than it was two years ago, but higher education
is still feeling the effects.
“There are two forces at play here,” she said. “When the economy is in a recession, a lot of people go to school when they can’t get a job. Demand is good, but resources to meet that demand are scarce. It’s really good in the long run for people to get extra education, but right now the institutions are having a harder time than usual meeting needs.”
Sophomore civil engineering major Karla Blanco said students are feeling the economic squeeze as well.
“I don’t have any income right now, so I wonder how I’m going to be able to afford books and things next semester,” Blanco said. “And parents who have lost their jobs are going to have an extremely difficult time paying for school. I know my parents have already discussed that.”
Anna said difficult economic times require focus.
“And at times like these, priorities- friends, activities, things you enjoy-they become that