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Although Philadelphia's budget crisis has graced the front pages of national newspapers, prospective freshmen and their parents do not seem worried about attending college in a cash-strapped city. Admissions Officer Eric Furda, whose territory includes the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia, said that so far, students and parents only asked questions about how the financial crisis would relate to security. But he said if the crisis gets worse, it could have its own effects. "Down the road it could certainly affect applications or, more importantly matriculation," Furda said. Furda added that the students and parents who have asked questions about the budget crisis are from areas which traditionally criticize the city anyway. "A lot of people [in the region] had a bad perception of Philadelphia," Furda said. Nationally, high school guidance counselors at schools that are "feeders" -- who send a lot of applicants to the University -- say that no one has raised questions about the financial crisis. Norm Reidel, chairperson of the college counseling department at New Trier High School in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, said that there was no decline this year in Early Decision applicants to the University from his school. He said any decline in applicants would be due to the declining population of high school seniors. "I haven't heard anything that is going to curtail interest or the number of applicants," Reidel said. Thomas Hassan, the director of college counseling at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, said that he hasn't "heard a peep" of concern from students or parents about the effect of Philadelphia's cash crunch. He said that the story has reached New Hampshire, but it is not front page news there. In fact, the University looks good to Exeter students. Glenn Singleton, the University's director of western regional admissions, said last week that although there has been negative publicity about the city, the skyline has looked attractive in recent Monday Night Football games and in a new Visa advertising campaign which highlights Philadelphia's Strawbridge and Clothier stores. The concern that students and parents have about Philadelphia's financial troubles is tempered by similar problems experienced in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Singleton said. Concerns about attending school in urban areas are widespread, he said. "It's not related to the crisis of [Philadelphia], but related to the crisis of cities," Singleton said. But Singleton said that high school students see universities as "being somewhat removed from the problems of the city." Cristoph Guttentag, director of planning in the admissions office, said that in seven weeks of travel up the East Coast he has heard "one question [about the crisis] from one student once." "My impression is that students and parents are wise enough and sophisticated enough to understand that while Penn is a part of Philadelphia, there is enough of an independence there that one wouldn't have too strong of an effect on the other," Guttentag said.

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