By Logan Hullinger
INDIANA — Declining enrollments have created a financial squeeze at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as President Michael A. Driscoll reviewed in a 75-minute semi-annual “briefing” from Sutton Hall on Wednesday.
But the president did not mention another institution squeezed by sinking numbers of students — the Foundation for IUP, an independent, nonprofit, charitable 501(c)(3) corporation formed in 1967 “to promote and support the educational purposes of IUP.”
The foundation’s most ambitious purpose has been the Residential Revival. Starting in 2006, the quarter-of-a-billion-dollar building program began demolishing 14 IUP dormitories and constructing eight new “suites.” The university described the public-private project (the private foundation owns the buildings; the public university manages them ) as “’the largest of its kind in the nation.”
The price tag for students was similarly big-ticket: The new suites doubled their rents.
But the suites were designed to lure students to enroll with such features as individual bathrooms, carpeting, high-speed wired and wireless Internet, large-screen TVs, microwaves and other creature comforts. When the university completed the project’s fourth and final phase on Oct. 8, 2010, the construction period had coincided with a run-up in IUP enrollment numbers.
In 2010, the number topped 15,000 for the first time. It continued to rise through 2012, when it crested.
Since then, enrollments have slid faster than they climbed, according to figures posted on the IUP website. In 2007, enrollment was 14,218. It peaked in 2012 at 15,379, an 8.2 percent increase.
Between the peak and the current academic year, the decline has been double-digit: In fall 2016, enrollment was 12,853, a 16 percent drop since 2012.
DECLINING NUMBERS of freshmen (the vast majority of whom occupy the on-campus suites) have forced the foundation to raise its rents and to refinance its mortgages to meet its obligations, according to Betsy G. Lauber, the foundation’s executive director.
Since 2012, the foundation has re-financed mortgages on the suites three times, according to a March 1 email exchange with Lauber. An April 2012 re-fi of the Residential Revival’s fourth phase (see schedule, below) produced no savings, Lauber said.
However, two re-fi’s of the third phase (one in 2012 and another in 2015) produced $650,000 in debt savings, a fractional reduction in the phase’s $73.4 million mortgage.
A refinancing of the project’s Phase I mortgage is expected to be completed within the next few weeks, Lauber said. It will lower the interest rate to 2.375 percent from 4.85 percent.
The foundation has no plans to refinance the Phase II loan, according to Lauber.
Savings generated by the refinanced mortgage loans will not offset losses in rent income from declining enrollments, Lauber said.
“The end goal is to make housing more affordable for students,” Lauber said in a March 7 interview in her Sutton Hall office. “But we’ve had to raise the pricing of suite-style rooms 2-3 percent every year due to empty bedrooms.”
Lauber added that the foundation hopes to maintain current suite prices for the fall 2017 semester.
The price for a two-person, shared semi-suite – the lowest-cost, on-campus housing option – was $3,950 per semester in academic-year 2014-2015, according to a university website. For the current academic year, the rent is $4,150 per semester, an increase of 5 percent in two years.
ON MARCH 7, Jacklyn C. Brown, the foundation’s director of financial operations, supplied figures for the original loans and balances for the Residential Revival project. The initial 30-year mortgage was $244 million. In June 2016, 10 years after the project began, the balance owed was $223 million.
“The 2008-2009 stock market crash, which was right after the project began, gave us limited financing options,” Lauber said. “But we are always looking for better financing options, and we always make the monthly payments on time.”
Logan Hullinger, junior journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from Clarion, is a staff reporter for The HawkEye. He may be contacted at L.R.Hullinger@iup.edu
Sidebar: Four phases of the Residential Revival
Following are the prices and buildings of each of the four phases of the $244 million project that constructed eight new residence halls on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus between 2006 and 2010.
Phase Residence halls Price tag
Phase I Delaney and Putt Halls $52.030,000
Phase II Suites on Maple East, Ruddock Hall, Northern Suites $80,540,000
Phase III Suites on Pratt and Wallwork Hall $73,440,000
Phase IV Stephenson Hall $37,915,000
Source: The Foundation for IUP
Sidebar: IUP, U.S. enrollment trends, 2007-2016
Following are Indiana University of Pennsylvania enrollments for the decade 2007-2016:
Year Enrollment % +/-
2016 12,853 -16 % since 2012
2012 15,379 + 8.2 % since 2007
Sources: Indiana University of Pennsylvania enrollment websites.
A national review and forecast of undergraduate enrollment in U.S. higher-education institutions are published by the National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Education. The center reports:
“In fall 2014, total undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions was 17.3 million students, an increase of 31 percent from 2000, when enrollment was 13.2 million students. While total undergraduate enrollment increased by 37 percent between 2000 and 2010, enrollment decreased by 4 percent between 2010 and 2014. Undergraduate enrollment is projected to increase 14 percent from 17.3 million to 19.8 million students between 2014 and 2025.”