How can you tell when a college is circling the drain?

Remarkably little data lets the public easily or systematically spot colleges that are in financial trouble or on the brink of closing. A 2012 report by Bain & Company found that a third of colleges studied were on an "unsustainable" path from the 2006 through the 2010 fiscal years and that an additional 28% were at risk of doing the same. In a 2014 update of the data, Bain found that gains in the stock market had improved the equity ratio for some colleges but "many did not get their expense ratio down," according to Jeff Denneen, the Bain partner who oversaw both reports. For such colleges, he says, "what concerns me is the revenue's not there."