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Monday, July 28, 2014

University’s budget falls

Published October 31st, 2013

UW-River Falls is facing an estimated base reduction of about $1.7 million dollars for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15).

FY15 begins on July 1, 2014 and ends on June 30, 2015, meaning it encompasses the 2014-15 academic year.

“By July 1, 2015, we need to have reduced our budget by $1.7 million, and over the next several months we must develop a thoughtful plan of how we will accomplish this,” said UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen. “We are going through a process to identify options and will strive to make the best decisions possible for the University.”

Van Galen hosted a town hall meeting on both Tuesday, Oct. 29, and Wednesday, Oct. 30, along with Assistant Chancellor for Business and Finance Elizabeth Frueh.

In her presentation, Frueh said that one of the challenges for the University’s budget is the falling enrollment. According to Frueh, there are 6,109 students enrolled at UWRF this year, down from 6,455 a year ago, a drop of 5.4 percent.

“We are projecting that we will make our tuition target for Fiscal Year 14 (FY14). If there is another significant drop in enrollment then it would be hard to meet our tuition target. If we do not meet our tuition target, then we would have to return funds to the system,” Frueh said.

The tuition target for FY14 is a little more than $34.4 million. The projected tuition for FY14 is $34.5 million. Additionally, because of the tuition freeze implemented by the UW System last year, raising tuition will not be an option for the University to help off-set the estimated $1.7 million cut. Frueh mentioned that there is a possibility for another tuition freeze after the current freeze ends after next year.

Despite not having to pay more in tuition to help off-set the cut, students will still be affected by the budget cut.

“It has to affect students because the mission of the University is about the students. So any time there is a base reduction it will affect students. It may not affect students directly, but it will affect them indirectly,” Frueh said. “Whether that means the class size increases or whether that means there will be less staff to provide a service, it will affect students.”

Van Galen agreed that students will be affected, but said it is difficult to tell how much.

“It is difficult to predict the impact on students. However, we do know that the Falcon Promise differential tuition cannot be increased from $130 to $160 per student as was agreed to several years ago,” Van Galen said. “The Falcon Promise supports initiative such as enhancement of learning spaces, undergraduate research and tutoring.”

The various divisions at UWRF, which includes the four colleges, the chancellor, provost, business and finance division, information technology (IT), administrative services, and enrollment and student success, have until Dec. 6, to submit their proposals. The proposed reductions will be submitted to Van Galen on Jan. 3, and he will finalize the reductions on Jan. 17.

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