Davidson is closing its flagship college in Virginia over a $1 billion cost overrun, the latest in a string of closures across the U.S. in a new wave of consolidation among colleges.
Davidson has already closed four schools, including two in Georgia, and is poised to shutter two more in Georgia and Virginia, including a school that is expected to be the only college in the state that is still operating.
The College of Charleston has also closed and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is expected soon to close, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
In its letter to students, Davidson said it is facing a “staggeringly” high cost of educating its students.
The college is in a financial crisis, it said, adding that it has a $300 million loan to cover the cost of the school’s renovation and operations, as well as other debt.
Davidson is one of several schools that have closed or are considering closing amid rising costs of higher education, as states seek to save billions in federal funding that was meant to help them absorb the impact of the financial crisis.
Some of the biggest declines in enrollments have been among low-income students, who have been hit hardest by the drop in enrollment and the drop-off of students from more advantaged backgrounds.
More: Davidoff College in Indiana closes amid cost overruns of $1.6 billion source The New York Times article Davidoff College, which was founded in 1912, is about to close after four years of operations in Pennsylvania.
Davidson, founded in 1638, was a Catholic school for the poor and working-class that offered its students courses in art, music and social studies.
Last year, it announced plans to close the school.
Davidoff’s chief executive, Peter Schmitt, said he was “deeply disappointed” in the cost overrun.
He said Davidson has been a “proud and successful institution” and has been “recognized by the world for excellence and quality” in education.
Davidoff’s decision to close comes as many colleges in the United States face deep financial crises, with the number of closed colleges growing rapidly in recent years.
At least 15 schools have shut down or closed since the start of the year, including more than 20 in the last two months, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why schools have closed, but the loss of revenue from tuition and other costs are likely a major factor.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, fewer than 4% of colleges surveyed last year reported a net loss of at least $1 million in the prior fiscal year.
One of the reasons for the cost growth, the association said in its recent survey, is a shift from private to public education.
With enrollment at colleges growing, private institutions can charge higher tuition, making them more attractive to students who need help paying for college.
While Davidson’s financial woes have made its announcement of the closure all the more surprising, it comes at a time when other colleges are grappling with rising costs and declining enrollment, with some schools seeing their operating budgets fall below what they needed to stay afloat.
Earlier this month, the Association of American Universities released its report on the economic downturn, which found that the number and type of schools that are struggling to stay in business is growing rapidly.
A number of states are facing financial pressures as well.
In addition to the closures of Davidson and other schools, a series of closures of other colleges has been announced by states in recent weeks.
“As we face a growing number of schools closing or leaving the marketplace, we are increasingly concerned about the impact on education,” said John M. Smith, president of the American Association of University Professors.
This week, for example, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education ordered the closure of the Davidson School of Business, which is located in the northeastern Pennsylvania city of Bethlehem.
The closure was announced after it received complaints from students who said the school did not teach students how to manage the economic stress of the recession.
And in February, the Georgia Board of Higher Education ordered Davidson to close.
Meanwhile, the New York State Department of Education, which oversees colleges, announced in February that it was canceling the Davidowitz School of Fine Arts and the Davidoff School of Architecture and Planning.
The state has also ordered the closing of the Columbia College of Arts and Sciences in Atlanta.
Another state, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, is also considering closing schools in the wake of its own financial crisis and has proposed closing at least six colleges.