Pittsburgh’s smaller colleges teeter on edge of ‘enrollment cliff’ and tuition drought

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At Carlow University, administrators, faculty and staff no longer get raises at the start of the fiscal year. The university waits until enrollment numbers are finalized for the academic year, and if enough students showed up, doles them out.

“Our raises come because the students are successful,” President Kathy Humphrey said in an interview. “Everybody waits with bated breath – ‘Did we make our number?’ When you’ve got everybody pulling in that direction, it makes a dramatic difference.”

The university added this incentive after Humphrey took over more than two years ago. Since then, Carlow appears to have stemmed its declining enrollment. The university saw a meaningful increase from fall 2021 to fall 2023, according to officials. But for years, employees at Carlow likely wouldn’t have earned raises under this model – and if other small, private universities in Allegheny County took the same approach, theirs wouldn’t have, either.

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