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A Quarter of Private Colleges Ran Deficits in 2017

June 27, 2018

About 25 percent of private nonprofit colleges and universities spent more than they earned in the 2017 fiscal year, though net tuition revenue grew for the first time in three years, Moody's Investors Service said in its annual look at median financial performance. The median revenue for private colleges was 2.4 percent, while the median expense growth was 3 percent.

Moody's said that less-wealthy small private colleges faced the most strain, noting continued divergence in the financial standing of institutions of different size and wealth. The increase in net tuition over all was driven mostly by the stronger pricing power of comprehensive private universities; a greater proportion of them increased their per-student net tuition by more than 6 percent this year than last year. But about a quarter of all private universities saw their net tuition revenue per student decrease in 2017.

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Doug Lederman

Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He helps lead the news organization's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives with his wife, Kate Scharff, in Bethesda, Md.

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