University down $4.6 million

Rhonda Wheeler, Editor-in-Chief

Steve Bridges, vice president for finance and administration, said that the university has a shortfall of $4.6 million at a Zoom meeting last Thursday.

“To summarize, the 2020-2021 budget has two major shortfalls: state appropriation of 3.4 million and tuition shortfall of 1.2 million, which is a total shortfall of $4.6 million dollars,” Bridges said. “Our task now is to adjust the 2020-2021 budget for the shortfall 4.6 million.”

Bridges said the university is updating the list of all current open positions and associated salary and benefit costs for each position that would go towards offsetting the shortfall. This will be presented to the Board of Trustees Nov. 5.

Enrollment is down 2.1% compared to last year making this the ninth year in a row enrollment has decreased.

“You may recall that President Rochon implemented a plan that vacated positions, unless absolutely necessary, would remain unfilled this year,” Bridges said. “This step will help to mitigate the shortfall.”

President Rochon also froze travel for the university and the money saved from there will also go towards this.

Bridges said a newer question USI will need to answer deals with university-provided fee remissions or institutional aid and scholarships.

“That is, will the decline in enrollment reduce these expenses overall?” said Bridges. “Or will there be an increase in eligible students for aid and scholarships?”

Standardized tests are now optional and more students may qualify for awards. The university has not fully seen the impact of that change in the award process since this change was recent.

After position savings and credit hours are finalized and implemented, cost saving measures will be evaluated. 

Bridges said the university anticipates lean budgets for the next few years, unless they receive additional state funding or an increase in credit hour production.

“Our budget work is just beginning,” Bridges said. “We thank you in advance for your support and your input as we work through these upcoming challenges.”