"What’s long been said about real estate is increasingly true for colleges as well—it’s all about location," reports Jeffrey Selingo.
Although education institutions have provided economic development opportunities in many urban areas, colleges and universities in rural areas are in danger of being left behind. "We are seeing creative juices and financial rewards flowing to a more select group of cities and urban areas. This has significant consequences for colleges in struggling towns and declining manufacturing cities," writes Selingo.
Remaining relevant and competing in an urbanizing country, according to Selingo, is "a task that colleges in those struggling towns often can’t afford." To make the case for the uncertain economic situation of higher education, Selingo cites a report released earlier this month by Moody's Investor's Services issuing a negative outlook for the higher education sector in the United States. In fact, the location of many colleges correlated to their financial performance. According to Selingo, "the credit-rating agency found that a quarter of regional public institutions—usually located in sparsely populated areas of their states—saw declines last year in their net tuition revenue, the cash that colleges have left after giving out financial aid to students. Among private colleges, Moody’s found 'a growing disparity between tuition-dependent colleges and market-leading universities with diverse revenue sources.'"