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Chancellor Boyce Warns of Budget Cuts Due to COVID-19, Declining Enrollment

University of Mississippi officials will be forced to make some hard decisions in the very near future due to financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chancellor Glenn Boyce sent a message to faculty and staff Thursday afternoon with the news that vice-chancellors have been asked to prepare plans for a 4.95 percent cut in permanent funds, based on expense and revenue predictions, and warned that cuts may grow as large as 7.5 percent if enrollment declines again at predicted rates.

“The financial impact of the pandemic has already been significant for us as we provided millions in refunds from the spring semester, invested in new ways to deliver courses remotely, incurred added costs to implement new protocols for the Fall 2020 semester and more,” Boyce wrote.

While many of the pandemic-related expenses may be eligible for reimbursement through CARES Act funding, many are not eligible for reimbursement, he said.

According to the email, state appropriations will be reduced by 2.5 percent from last year. Since 2016, the decline in state appropriations to the university is down 10.6 percent.

“The combined effect of these impacts plus continuing uncertainties about the current environment and the prospect of pandemic-driven enrollment declines will require us to reduce our core Educational and General Budget to match expected permanent revenue levels,” Boyce wrote.

Final enrollment figures will determine the size of the overall cut for fiscal year 2021.

“Due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, we will not know the size of the cut until the first day of classes on Monday, August 24,” Boyce wrote. “Traditional enrollment forecasting methods are not as reliable in the midst of the pandemic, so we must confirm our actual enrollment once classes begin before we make appropriate adjustments to our core operating budgets.”

All of this comes on the heels of declines in college and university enrollment nationally. The number of undergraduate students declined by approximately 1.4 million since the peak in 2010, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“Student tuition and fees represent our largest funding source for the university’s operating budget, so enrollment declines translate directly into less funding for our operations,” Boyce wrote.

Boyce said more information will be provided after the start of the fall semester.

Staff report

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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