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DePaul University Facing $56 Million Budget Gap and Shrinking Enrollment

DePaul University Facing $56 Million Budget Gap and Shrinking Enrollment

“DePaul is facing a lot of the same challenges that a lot of their peers are facing, especially in the Midwest”

There are so many schools in this position. The dam is going to break, eventually.

Bloomberg News reports:

Largest Catholic University in US Faces $56 Million Budget Gap

DePaul University is facing financial pressure after the pandemic intensified declining enrollment and widened the Chicago private school’s budget gap.

To narrow the growing gap between revenue and expenses the largest Catholic university in the US is starting to cut its budget. It is offering a voluntary separation program to about 15% of the school’s 1,400 full-time staff and administration, according to an April 4 notice by DePaul University President Robert Manuel, faculty are ineligible. School officials project a shortfall of $56 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1, barring cost-cutting measures.

Higher education institutions across the country, in particular small private schools without the cushion of a large endowment, are facing financial strain as pandemic stimulus fades and students become increasingly leery of expensive loans at higher interest rates. Many students are even turning to alternative paths after graduating from high school.

“DePaul is facing a lot of the same challenges that a lot of their peers are facing, especially in the Midwest,” said Emily Wadhwani, a senior director at Fitch Ratings. Those challenges include post-Covid recruiting as students weigh alternatives, alongside inflation pushing the cost of expenses like wages and utilities higher.

University-wide enrollment at DePaul fell 3.5% year over year to 20,917 students in 2022. Since 2018, total enrollment fell 6.8%, with steep declines more recently among graduate students, according to data from the school. Nationally, undergraduate enrollment fell 9% to 15.9 million students between 2009 and 2020, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.


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Our (homeschooled) daughter was accepted to DePaul. While we were at orientation for already accepted students, we learned that freshman year would be all remedial classes. Why? In the name of diversity, there were so many who would not normally be accepted to the university. They had to catch up with their peers.
That was the end of DePaul as an option. She finished high school at 15.

In a sane world, they’d do away with the Division, Exclusion, and Indoctrination (DEI) Department on the Last In, First Out principle. Then, evaluate their major and minor programs, eliminating those that graduated only a handful of students yearly and other low demand programs, followed by the grievance studies programs that graduate activists instead of people with useful degrees. Eliminate the staff and administrative support for those programs and, if warranted, the faculty who have nothing else to offer. Then see what the budget shortfall looks like.

The pool of potential students across the country is declining partly due to demographic/fertility issues and partly because people are losing faith in the value of higher education.

As the same number of schools compete for a declining population of potential students, we’ll see the top schools continuing to meet their admissions goals at the expense of the tier below them. In that war, private regional liberal arts colleges will be the first to fold, followed by private lower-tier universities, I imagine.

Over the last 10 years or so I’ve seen about one Catholic or otherwise church-affiliated small liberal arts college fail per year, I’m not surprised to see the financial contagion spread to a lower-tier private university like DePaul. Drew University (Methodist) in NJ is also in financial distress.

DePaul is competing for students who could easily go to UI or UIC for less cost. It’s not competing for students who go to U. Chicago or Northwestern, who will always fill their admissions quotas. Likewise, Loyola in Chicago seems a cut above DePaul (IIRC), so I’m wondering how soon they will be affected.

In the same way, Drew students could easily get into Rutgers or Seton Hall, depending on their family budget, which both have more prestige than Drew, nice as it is. Private Unis really need to strap in and buckle up. It’s going to be a rough ride.

franciscodanconia | April 29, 2023 at 4:08 pm

Been watching this higher ed bubble since about 2010, LI is one of the few sources of relevent info and updates about it. I think the bubble has run its course, many private schools in every state are hurting.these days finally it’s seeing the light of day.