With state revenues down and enrollment uncertain, institutions have few places to turn for the $120 billion industry groups say the sector needs.
The last, best chance for colleges and universities to avoid making deep cuts to programs and staff seems to be slipping away.
Congress is not expected to agree on another relief bill until after election results are confirmed, at the earliest. Higher education groups, meanwhile, have continued to press lawmakers for more money for the sector, with their latest ask at $120 billion or more.
The stalled negotiations in Washington are significant, experts say, because, unlike in previous economic downturns, colleges and universities have few other places to turn. State governments that support higher ed face their own sharp declines in revenue and an uncertain economic outlook. And institutions cannot easily raise tuition or count on increased enrollment, because, on the whole, fewer students appear to be attending college this fall than last year.
Higher ed’s funding situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.