The Ivy Coach Daily

September 18, 2020

Colleges Need Housing Money

All elite colleges, including and especially colleges in expensive cities like New York, rely on charging students for housing (photo credit: Diego Delso).

Some folks have wondered why some colleges have chosen to open their dorm rooms this fall while they offer strictly remote instruction. Why would these schools risk the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses by inviting teenagers and early twenty-somethings who so often feel they’re invincible into their housing communities? Well, isn’t it obvious? Money, money, money.

In a year in which so many colleges — including even our nation’s most elite colleges — are suffering from financial strain, many of these schools are willing to take a risk in the name of their bottom line. Frankly, the move also represents these schools clapping back at the argument from many students and parents that a strictly remote education isn’t worth the full tuition cost: “But it’s not fully remote. Students can live in their dorm rooms. They just can’t leave their rooms for any reason whatsoever. Not to eat or use the restrooms. If they have to go, they can hold it. Or use a bottle. Gatorade bottles are best.”

All kidding aside, a piece up on NPR by Sam Briger entitled “Colleges Strain Under Financial Pressures” brings to light why so many colleges allowed students to move into dorm rooms this fall. As Briger writes, ” One small private college president in Ohio told me, ’We make money on the dorms. We break even on dining, and we lose money on everything else, including the education and tuition.’ So for a number of these colleges, having students living there, paying for the dorms, is a big financial boost for those colleges.” You bet it is.

As we have long informed our readers, the cost to many colleges of educating one of its students exceeds that student’s full tuition payment — as surprising as that may be given the sticker price of college tuition at so many institutions. So, yes, it’s understandable why these schools would seek alternative revenue streams. And in a year in which it’s risky for all to go outside without a mask covering one’s face, let’s just say that housing students in college dorms this year has become somewhat of an alternative revenue stream.

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