University budget update provides clearer picture

Posted by Karen Lykins - Monday, October 25 2010
klykins@tntech.edu
Office of Communications & Marketing

Our university's budget picture for the remainder of the fiscal year has become clearer as projected numbers concerning enrollment, tuition increases and state revenues have given way to actual tallies.

Campus officials based this year's budget on a projected 5 percent tuition increase, along with 1.8 percent enrollment growth. Because both the tuition increase and enrollment growth turned out to be higher, the university is seeing a positive impact to the budget.

This summer, the Tennessee Board of Regents approved a 5.2 percent tuition increase for students enrolled in 12 credit hours, and higher for those taking more hours. The complete impact at TTU was similar to that of a 6.7 percent increase. In mid-September, the university reported record enrollment for the 10th consecutive year, increasing 6.4 percent to 11,538.

"We saw about $1.2 million in increased revenue based on enrollment growth," said Claire Stinson, vice president for Business and Planning.

Stinson explained that about $400,000 of that revenue will be used to cover a 1 percent cut that all TBR institutions will be required to make. University officials are also preparing for an additional 2 percent cut, for a total of 3 percent, if the state requires further budget reductions.

"If that happens, we have decided to manage that within the budget and not ask departments to absorb those cuts across the board," she said.

The university is now in the final year of a three-year plan designed to place our institution in a position to operate effectively without dependence on stimulus funds or one-time non-reoccurring state funding. Because TTU committed to and made budget cuts before stimulus money was distributed, the university faces a relatively stable future going into next year.

"We will be where we need to be next fall," said Stinson.

The majority of items in the university's 2010-2011 strategic plan were funded; Stinson says TTU has received notification that the 2010-2015 strategic plan is due to the TBR by Nov. 19 and will be up for approval at the December board meeting.

University employees following budget news last summer heard discussion of a proposed one-time longevity payment. State legislators presented a plan with a proposal for a one-time supplemental longevity payment – contingent upon state general fund revenues increasing by at least $50 million in the current year.

However, at the beginning of October, the state commissioner of finance and administration notified the legislature that tax collections fell short and the one-time payment would not be funded. The decision does not affect the recurring longevity payments, which will continue.