Trustees Adopt FY ’17 Budget

An aerial view of the Storrs campus on Oct. 9, 2013. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Spending plans for the Storrs and regional campuses and UConn Health are essentially flat compared to last year. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously this week to adopt the University’s FY ’17 spending plan for the Storrs and regional campuses, along with the annual spending plan for UConn Health.

The budgets provide $1.3 billion – essentially flat compared to last year – for Storrs and the campuses at Hartford, Stamford, Avery Point, and Waterbury. UConn Health and its operations will be supported by a $1 billion spending plan, also flat from last year.

Scott Jordan, UConn’s executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer, told trustees at Wednesday’s meeting that the budget prioritizes academics and research, but also includes numerous cuts and other efficiencies, including slowing faculty hiring.

For the first time, tuition will be the largest source – 28.2 percent – of UConn’s revenue in the 2016-17 fiscal year, with the state’s share now representing 28 percent, as the University’s state allocation has declined in recent years due to budgetary constraints.

As recently as 2000, the state appropriation represented 43 percent of UConn’s revenue.

UConn already has had $40.6 million cut from the state’s original adopted budget for FY ’17, and the University could lose up to 5 percent more – or another $19 million – if the state dips into a budget deficit and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy enacts his rescission authority.

“State support, which consists of both the direct appropriation and fringe reimbursement, is critical to the University,” Jordan said. “UConn has closely examined its revenues and expenses, and it is uncertain at this point how the University would address additional FY ’17 cuts should they be administered.”

However, the budget continues to support student access and affordability, with investments in financial aid, continuation of the Next Generation Connecticut initiative, and programs focused on students’ academic and personal success.

“It is the result of meticulous and thoughtful planning and management over the course of the last year,” President Susan Herbst said of the new budget plan, adding that it maintains UConn’s commitment to “protecting and enhancing academic excellence, student financial aid, and student services.”

Jordan noted that UConn is ranked No. 19 among public universities by U.S. News & World Report; is receiving record numbers of applications from inside and outside of Connecticut; and has decreased the average time from freshman year to graduation, now at 4.2 years.

“UConn has come so far as an institution, but continuous cuts are impacting students, faculty, and staff, and our ability to grow and maintain excellence,” Jordan said. “[But] in spite of ongoing fiscal struggles, UConn will continue to focus on protecting academic excellence, providing strong student support, and supporting the research mission of the University.”

Specifically, the FY ’17 plan for Storrs and the regional campuses envisions:

  • Keeping the University affordable through the availability of $95.9 million in University-funded grants and scholarships, with the best packages provided to in-state, low-income students. That’s up from $42.6 million in FY ’08.
  • In all, the budget includes $161.6 million in financial aid, which encompasses federal aid, state aid, privately funded scholarships, and other assistance, in addition to the $95.9 million in University-funded grants and scholarships.
  • Enacting a broad series of spending reductions and controls to balance the budget, including cuts to all units across campus; elimination of many empty positions and tight restrictions on new hiring; additional scrutiny of purchases and other expenditures; and other measures. The budget also incorporates income from raising tuition and generating more external revenue, such as through retail operations.
  • Operating high-quality programs to support the academic and personal needs of the anticipated enrollment of about 30,000 students, including approximately 23,000 undergraduates.

About $19.2 million of the state funding is earmarked for Next Generation Connecticut, an initiative to invigorate Connecticut’s economy by expanding education and research in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

Due to state budget difficulties, the Next Gen operating budget allocation from the state is almost $35 million less than what was envisioned when the plan was launched. To accommodate that change and the resulting slowdown in faculty hiring, UConn will need to hold freshman enrollment steady at 3,800 for fall 2016.

The University’s FY ’17 budget presentation is available online, along with other documents outlining UConn’s capital program, UConn Health’s new budget plan, and other topics.