Boston University President Robert Brown announced today the school will boost financial aid by some $37 million for the coming school year so it can meet "the full demonstrated financial need of all domestic first-time undergraduate students," for the first time, to ensure that BU is "accessible to a greater number of talented and ambitious students" even in what is likely to be a coronavirus-fueled recession.
But in announcing the news, in a memo to BU professors and staff, Brown added that the same financial pressures that will make it harder for families to afford BU will also hit the university, especially with that commitment to increase student aid an estimated 13.5% to $327 million for the next school year.
Even before the full impacts of Covid-19 become obvious, "It is clear that we will need to be more agile than usual to adjust to changing external conditions," Brown wrote:
To be prudent, we have frozen staff hiring and the initiation of any new capital projects until a clearer picture emerges of the impact of the virus on new admissions and retention of our students. Both of these decisions have been implemented to build financial reserves that could be used to bridge losses in revenue caused either by continuing closure, missing enrollment targets, or by increased demand for student financial aid due to job loss and loss of assets caused by the pandemic.
We also have established a committee reporting to the President to analyze the potential revenue impacts and possible levers for expense savings for the changing enrollment scenarios involving our spring, summer, and potentially fall semesters in 2020.
Previously announced projects, which include a new Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences, the filling of some faculty vacancies and the rollout of a new "student information services" system will, however, continue, he wrote.