With so many colleges closing their doors, and the warnings about checking into colleges’ financial health, I started doind some research. DS has not committed yet, only bc I am making him wait to hear from the April 1st schools he applied to, but Eckerd is clearly his #1 choice. I need to know that they are “safe” financially!
I am NOT a financial person, so I’m hoping someone here may be able to help me shed some light on Eckerd’s finances. I looked through Eckerd’s financial “grades” from Forbes for the past several years and they appear to be falling each year. Hampshire, which just announced they can no longer support themselves, actually had higher ratings than Eckerd does. That seems like a concern? But maybe there is something that was different about their financials? Can anyone help put my mind at ease?

I’m not sure you’re going to find that kind of info on a message board like this TBH. Not sure where to look either. I suppose you could ask their office for whatever info is public.

I think it’s a good sign that their applications/matriculants seem to have been increasing, etc. and I believe they own quite a bit of waterfront property, some of which could probably be sold if they needed to increase funds. I also know they’ve been updating and expanding. Costs from that could make things “look” bad for a few years, but level out once expenses become more stable. Just some personal thoughts in this last paragraph. I’m not privy to inside information.

@Collegefortwins I have similar concerns but I don’t think that Hampshire is a great comparison. They are more of an alternative college than Eckerd and they had declining enrollment vs Eckerd which has increasing. I think Eckerd has a $55 million endowment, which is pretty small, but President Eastman said he is going to try and get it up to $100 million before he leaves in June of 2020. Not sure if he will be successful but it will be interesting to watch.

OP: What grade has Forbes assigned to Eckerd College ?

I checked Forbes ratings for 2016 & 2017 for Eckerd College. In 2016, Eckerd had a grade of “C+” which fell to a “C” in 2017.

By way of comparison, Hampshire College had a “C+” grade in 2017.

I found this financial statement online. I am not an expert on reading them but it does look like things are getting better.
Anyone know how to dig into this and get good info?

I have had the same thoughts about Eckerd as you all mentioned - applications are up, they’ve done renovations and upgrades on the campus recently, I’m hearing more and more positive “buzz” about Eckerd, etc. That all seems quite positive. And, the upgrades could cause a temporary hit to their “bottom line.”

My DD happens to be in grad school at UMass Amherst, and we checked out Hampshire when I visited her in the fall - the campus looked like it was in need of TLC. I don’t get the same vibe at Eckerd at all…

I reached out to someone I know at Eckerd and asked about financial health and the following is the response:

“While Forbes is certainly one place to consult in understanding the financial position of a college, it can sometimes be misleading as there are a myriad of factors that play into their ratings. One such factor is the size of a college’s endowment. Our endowment is currently $55 million with a population of 1,880 students; we recognize that that needs to grow and we are working on a campaign to increase the endowment to at least $100 million in gifts and pledges by 2020.

“What is also important to consider, however, is that all of the colleges that have faced a merger or closure have also experienced a hardship with enrolling students. Eckerd, on the other hand, has witnessed a steady increase in applications; interest in Eckerd is at an all-time high and the College has exceeded its enrollment goals the past two years. While most colleges are looking to expand during a time of declining numbers of high school graduates (particularly in the Northeast), Eckerd is positioned well to better shape its enrolling class, to be more selective and to do so in the future with a larger endowment. For additional information, feel free to refer to the State of the College report.”

As an Eckerd parent, I was involved in several capital campaign projects, from 2006 to 2011- the Many Experiences, One Spirit that raised $86m, the Intermezzo campaign that raised $24m. Both of these surpassed the projected fundraising goal. There is the current campaign for endowment that will go until 2020. These campaigns resulted in: Iota residence dorm (LEED certified), Go Pavilion, James Center For Molecular and Life Sciences (LEED Platinum certified), Doyle Sailing Center, Helmar and Enole Nielson Visual Arts Center, and major renovations to Wireman Chapel, Fitness Center, Art Gallery, Behavioral Sciences, Environmental Studies, Math, Physics, Computer Science buildings, Gailbraith Marine Science Lab, Residential Complexes and Athletic Fields. A significant impact in the local area has been the green initiatives and sustainability program. There have been academic changes with study abroad, new majors, partnerships with post grad institutions that offer pathways for Eckerd students to law, engineering, business and education. Other program changes have been the Center for Career Planning and Applied Learning, the Bevan Center for Academic Excellence and the Eckerd Edge. Many of these our children were able to take advantage of, others came online after their graduation. We live about 10 minutes from Eckerd and are able to attend programs, hear guest speakers, watch films, we kid that while our children graduated, we never did!

An important factor when examining college financials appears to be how dependent a school is on tuition for current operating expenses, and how this is affected by discounting tuition through financial aid grants. In 2017, Eckerd College reported that 61% of undergraduates received “financial aid” averaging $36,810. It is not specified what portion is grants versus loans. Total annual COA was about $58,000 in 2017.

Eckerd has come in as the most expensive of any of the schools my twins have applied to (so, of course it’s the first choice of one of them), and I think that must be because they are still pretty dependant on tuition. This is with my daughter qualifying for their max merit aid package plus a bit (a very little bit) of need-based.

That’s interesting! I’m sorry to hear that.
They’ve come in cheapest for us, although Wooster and Denver have been a close second. We expected Eckerd to be fairly cheap bc he qualifies for the automatic scholarship and then the full FL Bright Futures (we are in-State). Even without BF, it would be about tied with Wooster. I was surprised though that the loan they included in his package was unsubsidized, which has not been the case elsewhere.