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Campus faces difficult budget issues

As Binghamton University works to meet additional challenges in state funding, the first priority is to protect the academic and research mission, according to President Lois B. DeFleur.

Following the approval of tuition rates for 2003-04 in June by the SUNY Board of Trustees that were less than proposed, campuses were recently notified of their budget allocations for the coming year. DeFleur has been meeting with senior administrators to review priorities and budget requirements.

Overall, the tuition levels mean a reduction in SUNY operating funds of approximately $36 million compared to last year. Binghamton will receive a 0.5 percent increase in state funds and tuition income for the coming year. However, no funds were provided for mandated salary increases and rising utility costs. In addition, the budget represents a significant funding gap for graduate tuition waivers. SUNY provides a pool of money to offset the cost of these waivers, but this year did not increase funding to accommodate tuition increases of $1,800 for in-state students and $2,084 for out-of-state students.

“Graduate education and research are priorities for Binghamton, and the tuition waivers are crucial to our ability to recruit quality graduate students,” DeFleur said. “We have decided to fund this cost and have allocated additional funds for research infrastructure.”

In addition, a significant increase will be provided to the Academic Affairs division for instructional costs and new academic programs.

Throughout the current year, the campus had already undertaken initiatives to cut costs and delay hiring, DeFleur said, and will continue to look for similar savings. The campus will use differential budget allocations and reductions that reflect the commitment to protect the academic and research mission, DeFleur said. The reduction will be 4 percent for Academic Affairs and 5 percent for other divisions.

The SUNY trustees voted June 30 to increase undergraduate tuition for New York state residents for the first time since 1995, to $4,350 per year, an increase of $950. The trustees had originally recommended a $1,200 increase. The trustees also approved a $2,000 per year increase for out-of-state undergraduate tuition, bringing that cost to $10,300. Graduate tuition will increase by $1,800 for in-state students and $2,000 for in-state MBA students and by $2,084 for out-of-state and $2,384 for out-of-state MBA students.

While King said he expected enrollment at SUNY schools to remain strong, he warned that campuses face serious financial constraints because of reductions in operating support.

“This shortfall may require further management actions,” King said. “We will continue to look for ways to reduce our operating costs without compromising our commitment to our students. Because personnel costs are such a large part of our operating budget, however, employment levels may need to be adjusted to stay within our financial resources.”

DeFleur echoed King’s concerns over the challenge of meeting ongoing operating needs, but she stressed that enrollment is expected to remain strong despite the tuition increases.

“Binghamton continues to be in high demand, with the number of students who have accepted admission and paid tuition increasing by 38 percent over this point last year,” she said. “Quality indicators remain very high.” The governor also proposed investing $2.5 billion in a multi-year capital construction program. The legislature has thus far approved only the recommendation on University hospitals and community colleges. DeFleur said that Binghamton has been strongly advocating for additional construction funds and will continue these efforts.

Even with the approved tuition increases, SUNY tuition, and the tuition combined with student fees remain below the levels of comparable institutions from neighboring New England and Mid-Atlantic States, such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Delaware, Rutgers, Maryland and many of the Big Ten schools.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08