Higher education facing big slashes
March 21, 2011 —
Not many things in life are certain. Add the cost of attending college to that list.
Until legislators vote on Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to cut funding for college and universities in his budget, there is no way to tell how it will affect SVSU, said President Eric Gilbertson.
“There will be a cut,” he said. “We don’t know by how much.”
The University runs on a budget of approximately $180 million per year. Gilbertson said lawmakers likely won’t supply final numbers until May or June.
Once the legislators act on the cuts, the Board of Control will meet with Gilbertson and he will give his recommendation.
Ultimately, the board will decide tuition costs, but Gilbertson said that it won’t raise tuition beyond what is necessary.
“It’s a balance between what we can provide and what students can pay,” he said.
Gilbertson said that he knows decisions about the budget now will affect the future of SVSU and that it’s difficult to make cuts while the University is still growing. In the end, Gilbertson and the board will look at the long-term needs of the University.
He said making any cut is “an art, not a science” and that it is important to “balance appetites” in determining what affects the interests of all the students.
“Everybody has their own perspectives on what is needed,” he said.
Gilbertson noted it may be possible to save money with energy costs and with faculty negotiations. He added that the University will not hire in positions unless there is a strong need for it.
At the June, 2011 meeting of the Board of Control, Gilbertson will make recommendations as to where the cuts should take place. The meeting is public and students who may attend.
Gilbertson said that any change in tuition is “a complicated matter” and that he wants to find a balance between what he thinks is best for students now and for the University in the long run.
Although there are no guarantees about the amount of tuition increases, Gilbertson said he “can’t imagine the percentage reaching any kind of double digit” if tuition rises.
He said there are two key questions that will affect the final decision. The first takes into consideration state aid. The other takes into account how many students there will be and in what programs.
Two other considerations for determining any changes are the projected enrollment, which will be higher than last year, and the number of courses offered per semester, which is currently at 1,700.
“Complicated projections go into setting a budget,” Gilbertson said. “We’ll be working on this for the next three months.”