Budget updates, enrollment and achievements covered at February Town Hall

The Feb. 13 Town Hall gave updates on information regarding budget scenarios, enrollment numbers and campus achievements.

Chancellor Jennifer Sobanet provided brief updates about the recent Board of Regents meeting, which discussed the budget for fiscal year 2024-25.

Three budget scenarios were introduced at the Board of Regents meeting, which will be revisited more in-depth at the Feb. 21 UBAC meeting.

Budget projections

Kathy Kaoudis, vice chancellor of administration and finance, explained the issues surrounding the current budget and structural problems and the three scenarios.

Kaoudis said the budget issues stem from not bringing in enough revenue to cover expenses.

“The first issue is our ongoing base budget. We did take $3.3 million in budget cuts for fiscal ’24 — those budget cuts are for the period that we’re in right now from July 1 until June 30. There are no other budget cuts that we will be taking for this fiscal year.” she said.

Due to the lack of revenue brought in to cover expenses, each scenario involves tuition increases:

  • Scenario A: a 2.5% tuition increase for resident students and a 4% increase for non-resident students.
  • Scenario B: a 4% tuition increase for resident and non-resident students.
  • Scenario C: a 2% tuition increase for resident students and a 4% increase for non-resident students.

The budget cuts range from $1.1 million to $7.5 million for the next fiscal year.

Expense reductions ranging between $1.1 million and $7.5 million and 0.6 to 4.2% of the $180 million annual general fund budget is necessary to balance the budget under these three scenarios.

The range for budget cuts depends on choices made in expenses. UCCS’ administration is considering a merit pool, which will fund programs based on performance and results.

They are also considering a payroll adjustments pool along with sunsetting programs for the year.

This year’s template was built with a 2% merit pool and costed an estimate of $2.5 million in budget cuts. The cuts allocated funds into market pools, merit pools or an adjustments pool for market compression.

While furloughs have been used in the past as a temporary solution, and may increase reserves, Kaoudis reassured campus workers they will not be implemented to address the imbalance between base revenue and base expenses.

Structurally, spending levels are reliant on one-time funds and are based on enrollment rates from years prior. With enrollment rates dropping, the projected budget for the next fiscal year strategizes around flat enrollment rates and defines when one-time funds will be used for ongoing campus activities.

“Our enrollment management and our retention teams have worked so very hard. We are really lucky right now that we are flat — we would be in a worse place were it not for all the great work of Dr. Cantu’s team and Carlos García’s team.” Kaoudis said.

There is a focus on recruiting and retaining the persistence of students for enrollment growth and revenue increase and an emphasis on seeking additional state funding.

Sobanet highlighted the need for expense reductions and realignment of resources.

“We are all in this together, and we will all take expense reductions together,” Sobanet said. “The administration is no different than any other group, we will be looking at ourselves just as strategically and thoughtfully as we ask everyone else to do.”

Enrollment status

Jose Cantu, vice chancellor for enrollment management, noted the preliminary numbers for this spring’s enrollment are down by 1.24%. There has been a .21% increase in student credit hours; the projected enrollment target for the budget is down by .2%

“That’s very flat, but in an interesting way, looking at prior spring semesters, it leverages us now for the future for us to go upward,” Cantu said.

Fall 2024 registration has not been opened, but the admissions funnel is seeing a 10.6% increase in students and a 4.2% admin increase.

“We’re seeing a good progression of students and parents feeling very confident about UCCS. We’re overloaded in a lot of our events, which is a positive as well, and, of course, everyone around the nation’s waiting for FAFSA to open up, which is key.” Cantu said.

Additional campus achievements and updates:

  • Carlos Garcia, vice chancellor of student affairs, is retiring on March 1. Homer Wesley will serve as the interim for student affairs.
  • UCCS recently held the MLK Days of Service and Action in honor of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. as an opportunity for the campus community to participate in service projects and educational workshops focused on King’s teachings in observance of the federal holiday.
  • UCCS athletics achieved a 3.3 GPA in fall 2023 and finished 11th overall out of 120 schools in the NCAA D2 Learfield Director’s Cup after the fall ranking.
  • Nine faculty members are being recognized and celebrated as Million Dollar Club Inductees, and each member of the club has achieved sponsored research funding with $1 million and above.
  • Students are encouraged to engage and vote in the upcoming SGA elections, which will be open March 4 until March 8.
  • Sobanet noted that the campus is exceeding on metrics relating to hiring and retaining faculty and staff with a concentration on underrepresented minority and veteran workers.

Photo from The Scribe Archives.