UConn's Draft Budget Scraps Plans for Increased Enrollment

University of Connecticut officials have put off plans to grow enrollment at the state's flagship university in their proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

Scott Jordan, the school's chief financial officer, presented the draft budget for the 2017 fiscal year to the board of trustees' Financial Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

The $1.3 billion plan calls for holding the admittance of new students at 3,800 next year. The Next Generation UConn initiative had called for increasing enrollment by 6,500 students to almost 29,000 before 2024.

UConn received almost 36,000 applications for its freshman class.

But UConn President Susan Herbst says state budget cuts will mean fewer faculty hires than planned and necessitated a switch in focus from growth to maintaining the quality of education.

"The undergraduate experience, the academic side and also the student-life side, that is the thing that we are dead set on protecting," she said. "The reason (students) are not going to feel much is because we are trying to cut, reduce, get efficient in everything else."

The school had warned in December of a projected $40.2 million shortfall for the 2017 fiscal year.

Jordan told trustees that gap has closed in large part through recently approved tuition hikes and because negotiations on new contracts with the schools unions have been delayed, allowing the school to push $19 million in anticipated raises off the books, at least for the next fiscal year.

"If raises had been negotiated and awarded, we would have had to find other ways to balance the budget," he said. "We did not raise housing or dining or other fees this year. We decided to hold the line on that for fiscal '17, and we are not talking about layoffs."

Jordan said the school also is making small changes to save money — such as having new students submit their own photos for ID cards rather than having UConn staff take those pictures.

The draft budget includes more than $29 million in state cuts than had not been anticipated in December. But it does not figure in any additional rescissions the governor will have the authority to make mid-year, if the state deficit grows, Jordan said.

UConn Health also presented its $1 billion proposed budget for next fiscal year. It includes an operating deficit of $15.9 million.

Jeffrey Geoghegan, the health center's CFO, said that gap will be closed through depreciation and delaying new capital spending. He said that's possible because a lot of projects, including the school's new hospital tower, recently were completed with all-new equipment.

The budgets will be presented to the full board of trustees for a vote on June 29.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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