College enrollments sink in the Midwest, causing budget trouble for schools

The pandemic accelerated a trend that college deans and finance chiefs throughout the U.S. Midwest have been dreading: There are fewer 18-year-olds to fill classrooms, dorms and dining halls.

That means less revenue, increasing the likelihood of budget cuts affecting staff, the curriculum and sports programs, while schools are forced to offer bigger financial incentives to attract students.

Tumbling birth rates across the region will also become a bigger problem for many mid-size public colleges, compounding the devastation wrought by Covid-19.

“We can see in our K-12 system what’s coming,” said Sean Broghammer, interim vice president for enrollment management at Kent State University, which draws about 80% of its students from Ohio.

The damage is mounting.

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