Catholic colleges fail Department of Education fiscal test

The economy has been tough on institutions of higher education in the United States. This week, the U.S. Department of Education issued a report listing 150 non-profit private colleges and universities that failed to meet federal guidelines for fiscal responsibility, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. The findings are based on fiscal performance for 2009. The number is 23 more than failed in 2008 and it represents a 70 percent increase over 2007, the Chronicle said.

The failure to meet the fed’s criteria usually represents an institutions “financial fragility,” but the downturn in the economy over the last two years has hit many college and university endowments particularly hard. The determination to list a school is based on several criteria, including debt, assets, and operating deficits and surpluses. The schools are required to participate in the DoE’s evaluation of how they award federal aid to students.

Sixteen Catholic colleges and universities made the list. Two have made the list for three straight years: Ave Maria School of Law in Florida and the College of Our Lady of the Elms in Massachusetts. This is the second year that Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire was listed. The first-timers are Brescia University in Kentucky; Newman University in Kansas; University of St. Mary of the Lake and Dominican University in Illinois; the University of St. Thomas in Texas; Rockhurst University in Missouri; Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina; Chestnut Hill College and Rosemont College in Pennsylvania; Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia; and the Dominican College of Blauvelt in New York.

The report also list many for-profit colleges and universities.