How a lack of state funding is affecting higher ed

Schools are asking for aid from local governments in addition to cutting staff and programs

Higher ed is seeing an increase of college layoffs and program reductions as state funding continues to plummet. To address budgetary deficits, many institutions are asking for monetary aid from local governments. 

In Delaware, Wesley College has requested state funding for the third time this year to address financial woes, Delaware Online reported. If approved, the $3.2 million request will double the amount that the small private college has received since 2018.

The request will likely be used to maintain federal financial aid eligibility, a state spokesman told the news outlet.

In 2018, state funding for public two- and four-year colleges fell more than $7 billion below its 2008 level, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute.

From DA: How finding small areas to save money can add up 

In California, the City College of San Francisco recently asked the city to use $2.7 million to restore 345 classes for the spring semester, the San Francisco Chronicle reported . City College, which has cut 634 classes since 2017, has an estimated $13 million budget deficit, administrators told The Guardsman, the school’s newspaper.  

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Facing $5.2 million in university budget cuts, the University of Minnesota Duluth will eliminate dozens of jobs and merge its schools of fine arts and libral arts to “preserve as much of our academic offerings as possible,” the university’s vice chancellor told the Star Tribune

In Oregon, Mt. Hood Community College could eliminate academic programs to address budget concerns. The proposal led supporters of those programs to push back in a recent community meeting, KATU-TV reported. The school’s board has requested $1.5 million in new revenue and for Mt. Hood to make $3.2 million in cuts, the college president told the TV outlet.

Dealing with university budget cuts

When former president at the University of North Dakota, Mark Kennedy had to cut the university’s budget by 5% after his predecessor cut the budget by 25%, reported University Business earlier this year. 

To ensure these cuts would be done judiciously, Kennedy, now the president of the University of Colorado, began a strategic planning process that resulted in a grant challenge, which covers environmental sustainability, rural health, data management and innovation in unmanned aerial systems. 

Related: How bleak is the future at some small colleges?

Facing a recurring $49 million budget shortfall created by state funding cuts and rising costs, the University of Nebraska system formed budget response teams in early 2017 to identify cost-savings strategies to help meet specific financial targets—without impacting the school’s affordability and academic excellence, reported UB

In seven months, officials found $39 million in university budget cuts.

“This is a pretty tough ask of people,” University System President Hank Bounds told UB.  “But when they understand the true circumstances and you communicate with them carefully along the way and request their input, they rise to the occasion.” 

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