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Mooney: Education more important than cost

Liz Harter | Wednesday, December 3, 2008

With the economy at the forefront of most news broadcasts and on front pages of many newspapers, the effects are beginning to reach higher education and raising questions as to whether or not families will be able to send children to expensive colleges and universities.

Saint Mary’s President Carol Ann Mooney respon-ded to this dilemma in a Presidential Perspective posted on the College’s external Web site on Monday.

“It is the natural reaction in uncertain times to tighten our belts,” Mooney said in the perspective. “People are driving less, shopping less, and doing more with less – all wise reactions to an uncertain economic future.”

However, quality cannot be sacrificed in some areas, Mooney said.

“Even in difficult times, for some things quality is worth the sacrifice,” she said. “Some decisions are too important to be left in the hands of the lowest bidder.”

She encouraged the parents of prospective students – the main target of the external Web site – to explore their financial aid options in these “uncertain times” and reminded parents that the “sticker price” of a college may not be the final price that student will pay because of financial aid.

“Many private institutions, like Saint Mary’s, offer scholarships, need based aid, loans, work study, and other solutions. Nearly one-fourth of our operating budget is devoted to making a Saint Mary’s education affordable for our families,” Mooney said. ” … The end result is that, for some students, the cost of attending a private college or university is actually lower than that of attending a public university.”

Susan Dampeer, Mooney’s executive assistant, told The Observer that the perspective posted on the Web site is not the first time Mooney has discussed the subject of the economy.

Mooney addressed the current economic situation and the College’s response to it with the faculty and staff during a series of talks in early November, Dampeer said.

“The presidential perspective on the economy was written after those discussions as a way to reach out to the parents of prospective students,” she said.

Mooney is also working on a communication to the parents of current students, which should circulate soon.

“[Mooney] will thank them for their sacrifices and affirm that the gift of a Saint Mary’s education to their daughters is worth the sacrifice,” she said.

Dampeer said the College is committed to remaining aware of how it is using its resources.

“Saint Mary’s, like all other colleges and universities, will be vigilant in our efforts to be good stewards of our resources during difficult economic times,” she said.