College fund-raising could hit the skids in 2009


Colleges and universities raised a record $31.6 billion in 2008, a rise of 6.2% over the previous year.

But with the stock market in the toilet, that number could plunge in 2009. Add in declining state aid for public universities, plunging family finances impacting college affordability and a soft student loan market, and the 2009-2010 academic year could be a real doozie for college finances.

But here's what I can't figure out: According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), "Over the past 10 years, contributions to colleges have risen at a 5.7% annual clip."

Also during that period, private student loan volume has grown by 989% as soaring tuition prices make college less and less affordable even as alumni send in more and more money.

What the heck? Perhaps top fund-raising colleges like Harvard are raising more money to provide a better education to their students. Great: But then why did a group of people composed largely of Ivy League alumni screw up the economy? For all the money their alumni have sent in, don't they deserve something more than a curriculum that trains future world ruiners?

None of it makes very much sense. It's almost like these enormous bureaucracies filled with self-satisfied "never worked a day in their life but still earn $200k" academics aren't being managed well.