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Wednesday
May112011

Universities Slash Budgets Nationwide, Face 'Hardest Year on Record'

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Colleges across the country are facing layoffs, program cuts, tuition hikes and possible campus closings as they brace for major reductions in state funding -- again.

The leaders of Penn State University are wondering if they'll have to close some of their branch campuses next year, and more than 400 faculty positions may be on the chopping block.

In California, class sizes are swelling while class offerings are shrinking. One community college district in San Diego has cut 90 percent of its summer courses. And in Washington, universities are increasing the enrollment of out-of-state students, who pay about three times as much as in-state students, while considering trimming resident enrollment.

Colleges and universities, which can levy revenue through tuition hikes, are a primary target for cuts when states are in a budget bind.

"This year is going to be the hardest year on record," said Dan Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, which has 420 member institutions. "Any new revenue at the state level is being gobbled up by Medicaid and K-12 education," he said, and much of the federal stimulus money expires this year, setting up the perfect storm for higher education.

At least 28 states, including Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Nevada and Washington, are talking about reducing aid to higher education for next fiscal year.

Thousands of students and faculty members in California and elsewhere have protested the proposed cuts. Last month, 10,000 Cal State students waved signs and flooded administration buildings to show administrators and the governor that cuts aren't going unnoticed. In Pennsylvania, hundreds of students crowded the Capitol in Harrisburg to tell legislators that their schools can't afford more funding reductions if they want to stay affordable and competitive.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio