This semester we will focus as a university on increasing the opportunities to share news about our successes and challenges. I am committed to bringing you news as quickly and directly as possible this semester that is relevant to how we serve students.
This afternoon, we shared information with the Budget Advisory Committee, made up of students, faculty and staff, about our budget for the next fiscal year. The committee’s role is to vet all information and data made available to this group and provide insight and recommendations.
During initial preparations, the university is looking at a reduced budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year due to anticipated lost revenue from tuition dollars and unanticipated increases in scholarship awards.
Using current projections, the information shared today with the Budget Committee indicated a likely reduction in recurring funds of $2.6 million (1.7 percent of our unrestricted revenues) evenly distributed among non-instructional and instructional units. There are many variables that will play out this spring and next fall that have the potential to improve our outlook as we move forward into our new fiscal year. We will continue to work through the process as we move forward.
The positive leading indicators that we saw in the fall have held, with applications and admits for this fall up from the previous fall. Gov. Haslam will unveil his budget in the State of the State address next Monday. The state legislature will take up appropriations, and THEC will finalize binding tuition recommendations in early May. Finally, our new Board of Trustees will review and approve our new fiscal year budget in late May/early June.
Tennessee Tech’s unrestricted budget is predominantly tuition-based, with more than 70 percent of the university’s revenue coming from tuition. This makes us susceptible to fluctuations in enrollment. We are still working through the enrollment decline bubble that started in 2014 and continues as those entering freshmen continue with their college careers.
For our part, we will respond to state budget decisions, monitor enrollment trends, correct and put more controls in place as necessary, and communicate current circumstances as updated information becomes available. We have made significant enhancements in recruiting efforts and continue to monitor and make adjustments.
By communicating this news to you now, there is time for a thought-out and intentional response that will ultimately protect our core mission: the education of our students.
And, most importantly, the end of this story is not yet written.