Wealthiest US college faces $1.2-b COVID shortfall

Harvard University, the richest US college, is forecasting a revenue shortfall of nearly $1.2 billion over two academic years, showing how the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic are crippling schools.

Signage is displayed at Harvard University Health Services in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., on Monday, April 20, 2020. College financial aid offices are bracing for a spike in appeals from students finding that the aid packages they were offered for next year are no longer enough after the coronavirus pandemic cost their parents jobs or income. Photographer: Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg

Harvard faces a drop of $415 million in anticipated revenue for the year ending June 30, and a further $750-million shortfall compared to budgeted expectations for the year beginning July 1, Executive Vice President Katie Lapp said in a statement Tuesday.

Colleges across the country are already dealing with lost revenue, with refunds for room and board, endowment declines and summer program cancellations all contributing. But the bigger issues will hit in the months ahead, when schools will likely have fewer students — with more financial need — showing up for the new academic year. If classes are held online, they’ll also forgo money from empty dorms.

 “The university is facing significant financial challenges which will require difficult decisions in the coming months,” Lapp said in the statement. “It is clear that additional cost saving measures will be needed in the coming months including the possibility of furloughs and layoffs of some members of our workforce.”

Harvard also extended by a month until June 28 the guarantee of pay and benefits for staff whose work has been displaced.