Indiana, PA - Indiana County

IUP enrollment decline causes budget gap

by on August 11, 2013 1:59 AM

IUP’s revised fall enrollment projection cost the university somewhere around $1 million in anticipated revenue and threw this year’s budget out of alignment, according to IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll.

Driscoll last week announced that Indiana University of Pennsylvania had lowered the projection to 14,800 students, 200 fewer than was initially expected and about 4 percent off last fall’s record enrollment of 15,379 students.

The lowered expectations, along with refinement in other expense estimates, reopened a deficit officials thought they had plugged — the university already had filled a $5.8 million gap with a mix of spending cuts and student fee increases. Officials have filled the new hole by drawing from IUP’s central operating budget reserves.

While it’s a solution, Driscoll said, it’s not ideal, nor is it meant to be a permanent fix.

“It reinforces our need to plan for the long term instead of reacting to the short term. To that end, we will spend this year working with the University Budget Advisory Committee to develop a (three-year) budget planning model,” Driscoll said.

But if nothing else, drawing from the reserve meant that the university didn’t have to make additional reductions, which is becoming more difficult to do, Driscoll said.

“In the cuts IUP has faced over the last several years, we’ve already found the efficiencies and trimmed the easy stuff. The next rounds will be even more challenging,” he said.

Although the university had to cover a budget gap for a second time in the past few months, Driscoll said it wasn’t terribly bothersome.

“In April, we made estimates of our budget situation for this year.  We knew that we would have to review the budget in July once we knew if the assumptions were correct.  We expected there would be some adjustments. We were right about many things, but not about enrollment.  It’s all part of the process.”  

Of greater concern, he said, is that rising costs and a lagging state appropriation are necessitating cost-cutting and are shifting a greater share of the cost of a public education to students.

That’s a problem affecting not only IUP but its 13 sister universities as well.

And the hope is that newly hired Chancellor Frank T. Brogan will succeed in making a case for improved state funding.

In announcing his hiring last week, state system officials said Brogan was able to do just that at the State University System of Florida, from where he is being lured away.

Driscoll agreed that Brogan will bring a strong record with him.

“I’m quite impressed with his experience in education and his accomplishments,” he said. “I’m very much looking forward to meeting him and working with him.”



Sam Kusic is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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