2023-2024 Budget at a Glance: Tuition expected to increase 3.5%

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By Amelia Pooser

Each year the Budgeting Task Force at the University of Puget Sound is entrusted with fielding competing monetary requests from departments, administration and more. They compile these requests into a comprehensive recommendation to advise the president on how the base budget should be spent in the upcoming year. The Interim Provost (Nick Kontogeorgopoulos) chairs the Task Force that consists of Emmett Carrier (’24), Jackson Dennis (’24), Professor Sara Freeman(Theatre Arts Department), Professor Alan Krause(School of Business & Leadership), Matthew Link (Client Support & Educational Technology Services), Cyrus Shafiei (Office of Admissions) and Kim Kvaal (Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer).

Around October of each fall semester, the task force gets together to review the past year’s spending, project future spending and discuss multi-year plans. Deliberation lasts until the middle of the spring semester. Updates are available through students’ emails, social media and other university correspondences. The task force makes it a priority to inform students about the process and its progression. Finally, a budget recommendation is given to the president, which was recently received by the student body.

This year has been increasingly financially tense. Despite continued gifts, including a tremendous ten million dollar donation to the athletics department, cuts continued as departments downsized or were even completely removed from the University. The 2023-24 budget recommendation has become increasingly paramount.

The task force meeting began by thanking its participants and describing the proposed process of formulating the recommendation. They then moved into context, describing the decreases in high school graduates, interest in higher education, enrollment, and the pandemic and how the combined factors have led to financial shock, forcing the University to dip into its reserves and endowment investments. To respond to these events, the Board of Trustees specified that the operating loss should not exceed $7.3 million and that the University should return to balanced budgets no later than the fiscal year of 2026.

The new budget lays out the fiscal year’s projected expenses, stating that 74% of the budgeted expenses were allocated to compensate faculty, staff and student staff. The budget expects a decrease in total education and general revenue budget as student numbers drop and full-time enrollment decreases. This was written alongside the notification that tuition and fees will increase by 3.51% in the following year. There is also a slight increase in the total education and general compensation budget. This comes as faculty and staff numbers are being reduced by 33 people totaling a “savings” of $4.1 million. However, this reduction will allow for a 5% increase in staff and faculty salary pools.

The increase in tuition, falling enrollment rates, and cuts to faculty and staff have all been hot-button issues on campus this year. However, the implementation of this new budget aims to ease some of these on campus tensions. While it is unlikely that many of these issues will be solved immediately, staying informed about the University’s monetary situation allows you to be an active voice in the campus discourse.