Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

April 21, 2011 Volume 32, No. 28

Fall enrollment revenue could soften impact of budget cuts


6,093 first-time students projected for August

University of Missouri faculty received a little good news this week: administrators are cautiously optimistic that projected fall enrollment could ease the campus’s budget situation.

The latest enrollment estimate, projecting an increase of about 1,000 undergraduate students, was shared with faculty members at Tuesday’s General Faculty Meeting in Wrench Auditorium. In an interview Wednesday, Tim Rooney, MU’s budget officer, said it was too early to know how much of the new tuition revenue would trickle down to individual departments and academic units in FY 2012, which starts July 1.

However, he said, it would help ease the pressure on departments that will have to cut expenses or reallocate resources to pay for a proposed 2 percent salary increase and rising benefits costs.

“Six months ago, we were telling [department managers], ‘You’re going to have to cover those costs and we’re going to cut your budget,’ ” Rooney said. “It does not appear likely that we’re going to cut anybody’s budget, and we’re pretty hopeful we’ll be able to distribute some money to help them with those new costs.”

Rooney told faculty that state support for MU has dropped from more than 70 percent of the general operating budget in 1990 to about 37 percent in 2010. To balance its budget,  MU has cut spending by more than $18 million over the last three years; put off $187 million in building maintenance and repair; and implemented a “soft” hiring freeze in which spending on salaries actually decreased from FY 2009 to FY 2010.

What has “saved” MU, Rooney said, has been the steady increase in annual enrollments  — a 26 percent increase in undergraduates since 2002 — even as MU kept tuition rates steady the past two years (the UM Board of Curators has approved a 5.8 percent increase for FY 2012). A proposal by the state Senate Appropriations Committee would restore about $4 million of the $13 million that MU stands to lose under Gov. Jay Nixon’s budget, but Rooney said much of that will go toward more financial aid and increased instructional costs.

As MU begins preparing for it’s next fundraising campaign, both Rooney and Chancellor Brady J. Deaton told faculty that, in addition to tuition and enrollment increases, private donations will be needed to help support MU’s operating budget. Income from endowments could help fund scholarships and teaching positions, making MU more attractive to prospective students and faculty.

“It would help us attract more students because it would make MU more affordable,” Rooney said. “At the same time, you could raise tuition and fund higher salaries. Endowment income is just as good as tuition paid by parents and students.”