Jan 292012
Authors: Allison Sylte

During last week’s budget retreat, each university department was asked to present budgets built around scenarios requiring 3 and 6 percent budgetary cuts –– a positive sign when compared with the 5, 10 and 20 percent reductions outlined last year.

CSU President Tony Frank even went as far as to say that he envisions this as the last year CSU will see negative budgetary projections from the state level.

“Our situation mirrors that of the mood nationwide –– that we’re seeing a financial recovery,” Frank said.

According to Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda, who headed the budget retreat, if projections from the state level hold true, most departments will only have to cut back by 3 percent, and the university will be able to end its three-year pay freeze for faculty.

But, despite lesser reductions than in years past, the impacts of the university’s belt-tightening still resonate across CSU’s fiscal policy. And, according to Frank, this is for the better.

“If the state’s financial future gets resolved in a positive direction, we shouldn’t go back to doing things as we did before,” Frank said.

CSU is now leaner and more efficient, according to Frank, and despite significant cutbacks in staff and operating costs, the recession has brought increased enrollment, more students, increased private support and an additional $2 million to CSU’s reserves.

However, during that same four-year time period, tuition has increased by 142.5 percent for resident undergraduate students, with a 9 percent tuition increase slated for the 2012/13 academic year.

“When we talk about enhancing our revenue, the lion’s share of that is through tuition increases,” Frank said.

Nonresident undergraduates will see a 3 percent tuition increase next school year, and graduate students will see an increase somewhere in the 6 percent range, according to Miranda.

In addition, CSU will see a $2.4 million reduction in state financial aid, an amount that Miranda said the university hopes to backfill.

“When we raise tuition, we also have an obligation to increase financial aid,” Miranda said.

The state is also expected to cut $6 million of funding to CSU, a number that both Frank and Miranda said was less than they had previously expected.

One strategy the administration is exploring to raise revenue is by recruiting a greater number of nonresident students, who Frank said generate more money for the university.

“The amount of nonresident students we’ve had has decreased in recent years. We were at a 20 percent level a few years ago, so one of our goals is to get back to that level,” Miranda said.

“But, we have an obligation as a land grant institution to fulfill, so we have to continue to offer a great deal of support to resident students,” Frank said.

This year marks the second of a three-year plan to implement differential tuition, a revenue-generating device where students in upper-division or high demand classes pay a lower rate than those in lower-division of low-demand classes.

“We’ve been impressed with the willingness of CSU students to look at these increases in the context of the state of things with the economy,” Miranda said.

“The last four years have been challenging,” Frank said. “But you can’t say that we didn’t go through it as a stronger institution.”

The final draft of the FY 2012/13 budget will be presented to the CSU Board of Governors during the June retreat.

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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