It has a bucolic waterfront campus on property once owned by the Vanderbilts, but things have not been pretty lately at Dowling College.

The school, 60 miles east of New York City, has been hemorrhaging money, students and faculty in recent years. Enrollment has plummeted 62 percent. Tuition has nearly doubled. The college has been exploring a partnership with another institution as a way to stay afloat.

Experts say Dowling is among a growing number of small liberal arts colleges struggling to stay afloat in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The Wall Street rating agency Moody's predicts that the number of four-year, not-for-profit colleges closing annually will triple in the next few years.

Many of these small colleges share similar traits, including small endowments and high tuition.