Higher ed lobbyist recommends stricter budgets

In the wake of rough economic times, colleges and universities must be especially prudent when tackling budgets, one of the nation’s most prominent higher education lobbyists said during a campus visit Tuesday.

“I think the biggest issue affecting colleges and universities right now is the economic climate that we’re facing,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president for the American Council on Education’s government and public affairs division. “All institutions, both public and private, two-year and four-year, are facing serious challenges because just about every revenue source they have is under pressure.”

Vice Chancellor of Government Affairs Larry Lauer, who invited Hartle to visit, said Hartle’s primary job is “representing American higher education in the U.S. Legislature.”

Hartle was scheduled to meet with university administrators Tuesday to discuss academic issues concerning higher education institutions.

Hartle said this is not the first time Americans have faced economic downturns, adding that education has had a long history of witnessing economic recessions and even depressions. He said that while recessions are familiar, they present serious managerial challenges.

Even though Sus Enos, a junior film-TV-digital media major, said she had no economic concerns about financing her own college education, however, she said others are having issues because TCU is an expensive school and some students are unable to receive scholarship money.

According to the financial aid office’s Web site, the university offers a full range of financing options to families of all income levels, and 70 percent of TCU students receive some type of assistance.

Hartle said many schools are inclined to help students find financial aid because their class sizes would decrease if they did not offer help.

“Once students get into institutions, institutions are very anxious to see those students have a good experience and graduate, because institutions, as much as they like students, like happy alumni even more,” Hartle said.”If students are facing challenges, they need to make sure that someone at the institution knows … most colleges and universities have tried in the last year to put more money aside for financial aid particularly because they know the challenges that are facing so many American families right now.”

Hartle said he recommends all young people get as much of an education as possible because of the financial benefits.

“I think higher education is something that we all ought to be concerned about because we do know that in the 21st century nations that invest in science and technology and education will outperform those that don’t make those investments,” Hartle said.