Student services: Many young men and women today struggle with an array of social and psychological problems--eating disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide, to name a few--that were rare a generation or two ago. Of the high school graduating class that will enter the nation's colleges in the fall, an estimated 12 percent are on antidepressants. For a variety of reasons, including high divorce rates and the pressure on parents to bring in two incomes, many students lack family support systems they could rely on in the past. It is now expected that colleges will help provide that support. Reed students have the added pressure of extraordinary academic demands. With its traditional focus on academics, Reed is a relative latecomer to the realm of student counseling and support. In the past decade we have added staff positions to provide career planning, medical services, and other specialized student services.
Facilities: Many of America's ivy-covered campuses date back 150 to 200 years. A 1997 study cited by NCCHE estimates deferred maintenance costs for these facilities to be about $26 billion. Reed College has undertaken significant renovating of old buildings in the last decade, to accommodate new learning styles and technologies, the needs of disabled students, and the expectations of students and their families in a competitive marketplace.
In addition to a major renovation and expansion of our library, we also have built a number of new facilities, including a new chemistry building, an art gallery, three new residence halls, and a 750-seat performance auditorium. Such capital investments, of course, are in a different budget stream than tuition; where they have an effect is in the equipping, operating, and maintaining of new buildings and the programs they provide.
Security: Twenty years ago, security at Reed consisted of a single person who patrolled the campus from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., checking that the doors were locked. Today, we operate a professionally trained, round-the-clock cadre of security personnel. If it is hard to imagine the need for such measures, let me assure you that it is both a market issue--parents and students are vocally concerned about campus security--and a real issue as crime rates around the country escalate, including beautiful Eastmoreland.
Regulations: The visible government regulations with which colleges must comply are those like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Reed is implementing ADA-required changes as part of our mission to make a Reed education accessible to all qualified students. But regulations reach into our budget coffers in many less visible ways. For example, Reed staff members are now required to file campus crime reports, detailed student financial aid demographics--even formal verifications that students have registered for the draft before they can receive government loans.
Competition: The college student "market" fluctuates with demographic changes in American society. In the past 30 years we have experienced the baby boom's abundance of potential students, the lean years of the baby "bust," and now the resurgence of the baby boom "echo." Inevitably, admission costs rise during the highly competitive periods. But demographics notwithstanding, the cost of presenting Reed has moved up sharply in recent years.
Unlike many institutions that focus their marketing on a few secondary schools within their region, Reed's unique niche requires us to perform a nationwide market search to find and communicate with prospective Reed students. The 325 members of last year's freshman class came from 286 secondary schools. To distinguish ourselves in a market in which virtually every college claims a world-class faculty, a warm and supportive atmosphere, and a breathtaking campus, we must invest in developing Reed's story and presenting it compellingly through the internet, publications, visits, CDs, and videos to students who can profit from the Reed experience.
Financial aid: In 1998, Reed will spend $6.2 million of its $32 million budget on financial aid. That's a 19 percent slice of our budgetary pie and an increase of 153 percent since 1988.
One obvious reason that we're spending more money on financial aid is because federal aid available to students (in proportion to cost) is shrinking. Colleges have been accused of raising tuition as a way of getting their hands on more federal money. In reality, we have had to raise tuition to keep current with our rising costs while government aid dwindles.
In a high tuition, high financial aid model such as we have today, the question arises, "Why not just reduce them both?" Aside from the perceived value of a higher-cost college, the question is one of educational access for students from low-income families. Reed's financial aid policy is exclusively need-based, providing aid packages that cover the demonstrated needs of qualified students from even the most needy families. The median parental income of our students on aid is $40,710--a level significantly lower than at many of our peer colleges. Unlike many colleges and universities, Reed does not offer what financial aid professionals pejoratively call "vanity awards." (These are awards given to students who do not demonstrate financial need, but are desirable to the institutions that want to alter the academic profile of their student body or want to attract students with special talents.) If Reed adopted that practice, financial aid expenditures would be considerably larger.