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Newbury College Closing Shortly After Enrolling Mount Ida Students

Newbury College Closing Shortly After Enrolling Mount Ida Students
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Before joining a group of small private liberal arts institutions that had to close its doors due to financial pressures and falling enrollment, Newbury College encouraged students from defunct Mount Ida College to transfer over. The hope was that the addition of students to Newbury's campus would be enough to allow the school to continue its educational mission. Unfortunately, Newbury has announced it will have to shut-down operations next spring and some students who recently arrived from Mount Ida feel "twice betrayed."

The college, which currently has 625 students, cited demographic and severe financial constraints in higher education - as well as overspending, "over-acceptance of students, the issuance of the types of scholarships and discounts to entice students to come" - as reasons for the closure. In a last-ditch effort to remain open, Newbury College recruited students from Mount Ida College. Both colleges offer "generous financial aid" to almost all of their students. Newbury's net assets dropped by nearly $2.4 million in 2017, ran a working capital deficit of about $825,000, and it recorded negative cash flow from operations of $442,000. Between 2006 and 2017, it lost roughly half of its enrollment and by the 2018-2019 academic year, it was offering deep discounts to students who enrolled.

Although some families had asked specifically about the school's finances before transferring over to Newbury, and received assurance that "all was well," students, faculty and parents learned of the closing last Friday. The decision to close came only after a "tireless pursuit" of various options to remain open, including affiliations, mergers and strategic partnerships. Newbury is "far from the only small college or university to publicly face closure."

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