Bargain-Hunting Students Swarm State Universities
Officials walk line between shoring up budgets, maintaining reputations
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2009 10:44 AM CST
People make their way on the Clark Atlanta University. Enrollments at black colleges have declined while endowments have dropped and fundraising sources have dried up during the economic meltdown.   (AP Photo/W.A. Harewood)
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(Newser) – The unraveling economy is spurring a boom in applications to public universities as students pursue higher education at lower prices, the New York Times reports. But while increased enrollment may help offset the budget cuts that many public institutions expect as states trim budgets, it can also diminish the student experience—and ultimately a school's reputation, leaving officials to walk a tightrope between cash flow and prestige.

At State University of New York at New Paltz, for instance, officials expect a 12% jump in applications as 15,500 students vie for 1,100 spots. Last year 24% of accepted students enrolled, an increase from the usual 20%-21%, so admissions officials will trim the number of acceptance letters it sends by 1000 and keep a longer waiting list even as the school faces $9 million in state budget cuts.