Here today, gone tomorrow: Those are not words college students and their parents want to hear when it comes to the schools they have chosen.

But the closure of institutions of higher learning is becoming a more common occurrence. Over the past several years in New England alone, five private colleges have either closed outright or have been merged into larger schools.

Other high-profile schools, such as Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., are fighting to stay afloat financially, the Washington Post reported.

The financial soundness of private colleges has become such a concern for college-aged students and their parents that Forbes magazine began publishing a report card on the financial health of these schools. The sixth edition of that report card was published by the magazine late last month.

The Forbes analysis took into account things such as endowment, enrollment, tuition, visibility and operating expenses.

“The sudden closings of several colleges is alarming to students and parents,” said Janet Rosier, a certified education planner with offices in Woodbridge and Westport, who helps Connecticut students with college searches and admissions services. “They want to know that the college the student chooses to attend will be there for the full four years and, hopefully, beyond.”

In helping families make that assessment, college admissions consultants and those who consult with schools say there are certain red flags that, when combined with other factors, can be signal that a school is on difficult financial footing.

“I have found colleges that are small are not as appealing to my students, unless they have a special area of interest or there is another pretty specific reason for students to choose them,” Rosier said. “For my students, a minimum of 1,000 undergraduate students seems to be the tipping point. If a college does not have at least 1,000 full-time undergraduates, most won’t consider it.”

Marlboro College in Vermont, which announced in November it would fold into the Emerson College in Boston, had about 150 students, according to the Washington Post. Newbury College in Boston, with about 600 students, and the College of St. Joseph, with a bout 235 students; Southern Vermont College, with 358 undergraduates; and Green Mountain College, with fewer than 500 students, all in Vermont, all announced this year they would close.

Dwindling enrollments are problematic for schools facing financial pressures because fewer students means less revenue from tuition. And according to a report released this month by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, college enrollment in the United States has decreased for eight consecutive years.

And that trend is unlikely to change. Nathan Grawe, an economist at Carleton College in Minnesota, is predicting the college-going population will drop by 15 percent between 2025 and 2029.

The expected decline in students attending college in the future is, in part, a function of the last recession, according to Michael Horn, author of the book “Choosing College: How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life” and principal consultant for Entangled Solutions, a San Francisco-based consultant to educational institutions.

“The birth rate has not recovered since the recession,” Horn said. “So it’s not going to get better for these schools anytime soon.”

Another thing for parents to look for when their children are college shopping is “what is a school’s endowment and how much is being spent year over year to cover operating expenses,” he said.

“If they are spending over 10 percent (of the endowment) on operating expenses, that’s a problem,” he said. “That is just not sustainable. It should be down around 5 percent.”

Of the 13 Connecticut schools that Forbes reported on in its latest report, eight got grades of C-plus or lower. Among the schools that got at C-plus from Forbes were Albertus Magnus College in New Haven and Quinnipiac University in Hamden. Two schools — the University of Bridgeport and Mitchell College in New London — got a grade of D.

The number of schools that got a D grade across the entire Forbes report has increased from 110 in 2013, when the magazine started doing the analysis, to 177 this year, a 61 percent increase

Yale University had the best fiscal health among any of the schools, earning an A-plus. Yale was one of 34 schools nationally to get that coveted rating.

Wesleyan University in Middletown was given an A, followed by Trinity College with a B-plus. Connecticut College and Fairfield University both got a B grade.

Officials at some private colleges in the Hearst Connecticut Media area responded to inquiries about what their schools are doing to strengthen their financial outlook.

Laura Skandera Trombley, president of University of Bridgeport, did not respond to a request by Hearst Connecticut Media for comment on the Forbes ranking. But she did complain about it in a communication to members of the school community two weeks ago.

UB ranks 895th on a Forbes list of 933 graded higher education institutions with enrollments above 500.

“What struck me about this article was that there was a particular slant to the story that was explicit in its meanness in presenting the struggles that so many institutions are facing,” Trombley wrote. “Of course, most disappointing was the deliberate misrepresentation of the University of Bridgeport.”

In her message, Trombley said UB has a deficit and is working to address it. She didn’t say how big the shortfall is but said the university has developed enrollment and financial targets that will get it to a balanced budget in three years.

Fall enrollment and financial targets for 2019, she stated, were achieved.

John Morgan, a spokesman for Quinnipiac, said a multi-year strategic plan the school’s board of trustees adopted earlier this year “that strongly positions the university as it strives to grow to national prominence.”

“We continue to build a university that’s adaptable to the changing workforce and new learning needs,”Morgan said. A recent study by Georgetown University’s Center of Education and the Workforce ranked Quinnipiac among the top 3 percent of all colleges and universities in the country in terms of value delivered to students, he said.

Quinnipiac’s endowment is currently “well over” $500 million, Morgan said.

Mario Gaboury, interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Haven, said the West Haven school has reviewed its strategic plan over the past year and established a set of priorities for the school to succeed in the current educational climate.

Those priorities include:

Optimizing enrollment levels with a focus on expanding the number of students in graduate programs.

Changing practices within different programs at the school to provide students with more opportunities for internships and student project work.

Increasing focus on courses of study that mirror areas of the economy where more jobs are available.

To that end, UNH officials announced the establishment of a new School of Health Sciences last year. And Gaboury said the university’s successful engineering school is placing more of an emphasis on computer and cybersecurity training.

“UNH is a very entrepreneurial school,” he said.

Connecticut Media Group