Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where Do Universities Keep Their Money?

The news world may just be determined to help me rethink my position on credit, bailout, etc.

The popular perception is that, with the outrageous pace of rising tuition, universities have more money than they know what to do with, and should spend more of their endowments rather than jacking up tuition beyond inflation every year. I've ignored that argument, for the most part; legislating what universities spend isn't going to take much hold when people are willing to take on such burdens of debt to attend the prestigious places regardless of how little of their endowment they spend.

But where exactly are those endowments? They are obviously not piles of cash in the basement of the administrative building; in fact, they're in a lot of places that seem to be just as affected by the current economic situation as the stock market is. I'm not sure I'm convinced that Wachovia's decision to limit withdrawals from a common college fund is going to do much more fiscally speaking than give assorted payroll & benefits services more than a headache from resource juggling, but in the long run it will be extremely interesting to see the effects on the tuition argument.

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