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Articles: Financial Services

Working together, campus buyers and facilities staff can ensure that dollars for equipment needs are wisely spent.

Who would ever think that replacing simple lightbulbs could end up costing a university hundreds of thousands of dollars? Or that a piece of equipment destined for a building’s basement could nearly cause the destruction of an exterior wall, with an associated price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars, because the system was too large to fit through a doorway and too heavy to ride on an elevator?

A fresh look: When the library at Grand Valley State U was remodeled, useable furniture got new life on other parts of campus rather than being placed into storage.

Furniture asset management has been a big efficiency win for institutions. Facilities managers say inventory tracking, storage, and reusing or repurposing every piece of furniture an institution owns are keys to the process.

New football teams continue to take the field at colleges and universities each fall, overcoming criticism—from within higher ed and from outside—that sports programs not only suck up money desperately needed by academic departments but also drive up tuition and student fees.

The latest NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments shows college increasing spending from their endowments. (Click to enlarge)

U.S. colleges and universities last year paid for operations with bigger chunks of their endowments to compensate for declines in key sources of revenue, particularly tuition and public funding.

The good news is that the average rate of return rose for the second straight year, from 11.7 percent in FY2013 to 15.5 percent in 2014, according to the “NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments,” released in January.

Based in part on geographic proximity and mission complementarity, higher education institutions cater to the fast changing skills development needs of the gaming industry. This is especially true in Las Vegas where UNLV supports the International Gaming Institute which features its prestigious Executive Development Program. UNLV provides knowledge on most aspects of casino management and with courses geared toward executive levels—future leaders of the next iteration of casinos and resorts are trained.

While each campus is unique, an audit may reveal surprising  information about the many places credit cards are accepted as  payment. (Click to enlarge)

Those involved in securing credit card data used in higher ed transactions need to be aware that banks are beginning to exercise greater scrutiny over these activities. It’s more important than ever that campus officials get a firm hold on, and a clear understanding of, this aspect of their operations.

Donald Farish, president of Roger Williams University, will deliver a keynote at the UBThrive conference in June.

People often go to college for the wrong reasons, with assumptions about how it’s going to benefit them, says Donald Farish, president of Roger Williams University. An outspoken proponent of access and affordability, Farish—who will speak at the new UBThrive program this June—says colleges and students need to be more realistic about what to expect.

College ranking systems are typically viewed as unreliable metrics, often accused of practicing favoritism based on questionable criteria that varies by publisher.

In an attempt to provide an unbiased and informed resource for prospective students and their families, the Obama administration has formulated its own version of a college ranking system.

Payment solution providers were asked: What is the biggest vulnerability you see when it comes to PCI compliance at colleges and universities?

President Barack Obama is not acting like someone whose party suffered heavy defeats in the recent midterm election. Last month he previewed America’s College Promise, an ambitious plan that could help his earlier goal of increasing the number of college graduates to become a reality.

“Put simply, I’d like to see the first two years of community college be free for everyone who is willing to work for it,” Obama said in making the announcement. “It is something we can accomplish and it’s something that will train our workforce so we can compete with anyone in the word.”

Donald Farish, president of Roger Williams University, predicts nonprofit private colleges will continue to increase both tuition and discount rates in 2015. Farish will deliver a keynote at the UBThrive conference in June.

Presidents and other thought leaders look ahead on cost, technology, learning and the other big issues in higher education.

In 2013, nearly seven in 10 borrowers owed less than $25,000 in college debt, according to the College Board. (Click to enlarge)

Might the cliche of the forever-indebted college student someday become a fable?

According to a new College Board report, total college student debt for 2013-14 is down by $8.7 billion from the previous school year, with students having borrowed $106 billion. This is the third consecutive year American student borrowing has decreased.

Many institutions expect to make significant investments in academic technology, Wi-Fi connections and network security in 2015.

Of the higher ed leaders who responded to a UB survey, nearly half expect overall tech spending to increase at their schools, while another 40 percent said it will stay the same. Perhaps surprisingly, a full 11 percent expect tech spending to decrease.

A majority of higher ed leaders expect modest to significant increases in tuition revenue in 2015. (Click to enlarge chart)

Multiple forces are pushing institutions to change from the financial status quo. Institutions are feeling more pressure to advocate for state higher ed funding, prove their value to students and support the simplification of debt repayment. Yet some campus leaders might just be fine with the opportunities that scrutiny can bring, and in many cases, administrators are meeting those challenges.

Need donation spending advice? Turn to the students, as Oklahoma Christian University did.

In November, President John deSteiguer announced that students could vote to allocate a recent $275,000 gift to one of six projects in the university’s Thrive campaign.