The Budget Advisory Council Meeting was held on Sept. 24 to discuss VSU’s financials and to provide transparency amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
VSU’s operating budget was reduced by 15%, or $12.1 million. Reductions included reducing part-time and student employment, eliminating 88 vacant positions and offering a one-time retirement incentive.
According to Dr. Robert Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, the reasoning for the reductions was due to forces outside of VSU’s control. COVID-19 didn’t really play a role as some might have anticipated, but rather the reductions were a result of the state of Georgia making reductions in allocations for universities.
However, Smith said that the reductions were not nearly as bad as what they were forecasted to be.
“You always want to prepare for the worst scenario possible, so we were expecting there to be a 14% reduction. Luckily, it was only a reduction of 10.5%,” he said.
Additionally, the university was prepared for at least a 7% enrollment reduction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, since school administrators didn’t make a decision regarding the operation of the fall semester until July. Nevertheless, VSU was pleasantly surprised with the enrollment numbers.
Statistics showed graduate enrollment for the fall semester was up 1.9% from last year, while undergraduate enrollment has gone up 11.2% . Even more, the school saw a 43.9% increase in freshman enrollment, making it the largest freshman class in institution history.
Given that 46.32% of the university’s $105 million revenue comes from tuition alone, these enrollment numbers are incredibly significant, Dr. Smith said. In a time in which budgets have been restricted and reductions have had to be made, the increased enrollment is positive development for VSU’s financials.
According to Rodney Carr, vice president for Student Success, applications for next spring are already up by 70%.
Despite wrenches that have been thrown the Budget Advisory Council’s way, the current state of the enrollment is providing a little sense of comfort for school administrators Dr. Smith said.
“We’re not necessarily where we want to be financially, but the enrollment has us feeling much more comfortable about the budget,” he said.
Story written by Grant Palmer. Photo courtesy of VSU Spectator.