Big Chill on Campus

After decades of growth, U.S. colleges are facing a financial squeeze that threatens the quality and breadth of higher education

For a half-century, expansion has been the byword of American higher education. More course offerings, bigger and better-paid faculties, new graduate schools and elaborately equipped laboratories, more diverse student bodies. The emphasis on bigger and better helped make American universities the envy of the world and their degrees one of the nation's hottest exports.

But suddenly, with a shifting of economic winds, contraction is the order of the day. As state, federal and private sources of funds dry up and bills from the fast-spending '80s come due, even the most elite colleges find themselves facing a financial crunch that promises to...

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