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Campus CFO

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve seen the alarming headlines highlighting “exploding” college costs and “crushing” student loan debt. Because the media is trying to grab readers’ attention, these articles often use the most startling cases of these serious problems without providing context needed to fully understand the complexity of these issues. A simple internet search reveals the prevalence of these types of articles. Here are just a few recent headlines:

Americans are increasingly choosing donor-advised funds (DAFs) as their preferred charitable giving vehicle. They have become the fastest growing vehicle in philanthropy, outnumbering private foundations by more than two-to-one. In 2010 (the most recent available data), grantmaking from DAFs totaled more than $6.1 billion, according to the “2011 Donor-Advised Fund Report” from National Philanthropic Trust.

There are two things Muhlenberg College (Pa.) president Randy Helm makes sure to do when he writes his annual tuition letter to parents, and both are in the first paragraph. First, he thanks parents for sending their children to the college; second, he details the following year’s tuition and fees and notes the percentage increase over the current year.

The good news: The majority of U.S. colleges and universities polled in the third annual tuition pricing survey from Moody’s Investor Service project net tuition revenue growth for fiscal year 2012. The bad news: More U.S. universities anticipate tuition revenue to drop than compared to the previous year.

With ever more affordable options available to them, a new report shows that students are spending somewhat less on average for their textbooks than in previous years. According to the Student Watch study conducted by the OnCampus Research division of the National Association of College Stores (NACS), students spent $655 on required course materials this year, down from $667 two years ago and from $702 four years ago.

A report by credit score analyst FICO shows growing concern for the stability of the student loan market, putting additional strain on the fragile economy. U.S. student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt, with an estimated $750 billion in outstanding student loans.More than two-thirds of bank risk professionals surveyed expected loan delinquencies to rise.

Colleges and universities stand to reap the benefits of tens of billions of dollars in federal funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The legislation will impact everything from student aid and research funding to technology investments and projects planning. Two experts, Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer at University of Texas, Austin, and Lander Medlin, executive vice president of APPA, provide valuable insight about the stimulus package in this edited digest of our web seminar.