The pandemic has struck hard in the financial sector and colleges are feeling the sting.

As the result of the COVID-19 lockdown, colleges have shifted to online learning. If that continues into the fall of 2020, many students may take a year off from school. And some smaller private colleges in our area may not to be able to survive without students on campus this fall. According to and a report from, Wells College, located in the Finger Lakes town of Aurora, could be one of those unfortunate schools.

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A recent letter from the Wells College president expressed concern about the fragile calculus of its relatively small endowment (about $24 million, but only 15% of which can be used for expenses) coupled with its reliance on tuition and fees for basic operation.

By comparison, Clinton's Hamilton College has an endowment of close to a billion dollars and could withstand another school year without a huge influx of student tuition and fees.

Other smaller schools in Upstate New York with enrollments of about 1,000 or less could face similarly dire straits. Schools like Utica College and Syracuse University will certainly survive, but the post-pandemic story for smaller schools in our area may be more grim.

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