Public universities face possible budget cuts

More than $100 million in state funding could be cut from public universities across the state.

Posted: Jun 17, 2020 6:18 PM
Updated: Jun 17, 2020 6:21 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - $103 million in state funding could be cut from public universities across the state.

The cuts were announced by state leaders last week after they saw drops in tax collections amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"We do understand why they are taking some of these measures," said Matt Hawkins, Senior Vice President for Business Affairs at Ivy Tech Community College.

Under the plan, Indiana's seven public universities would have their 2020-2021 funding reduced by 7%.

University funding makes up around 10% of the state's budget.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education said the budget cuts do not come as a surprise.

"These cuts will require institutions to significantly adjust operations and services, and Indiana’s institutions have been developing contingency plans over the past several months in effort to prepare for a variety of scenarios," said the commission in a statement. "At the same time, these cuts will not impact student financial aid, which is important to ensure college affordability for all Hoosiers in a time when there will most likely be increased financial need for students and families."

At the local level, both Purdue and Ivy Tech are facing possible cuts in funding as a result.

"Purdue's share of that is roughly $25 million across the system with around $19 million of that hitting West Lafayette," said Purdue Treasurer Chris Ruhl.

Ruhl said Purdue University was prepared for such a reduction.

"We built a budget that included the reduction and we're ultimately going to manage our spending in a way that'll take account for the lost revenue," said Ruhl.

This includes halting certain projects across campus, but Ruhl says the new budget still includes a tuition freeze.

"Student affordability is still a top priority for the university, especially in this environment right? It's really an important message to students that we're looking out for them," said Ruhl.

Ivy Tech's Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Matt Hawkins said the community college has also made changes such as salary freezes to create reserves in funds.

"We knew the state wouldn't be able to give out money that it didn't have and we knew they would have revenue shortfalls. So we were trying to do our part early on in our budget development," said Hawkins.

Funding received through the federal CARES Act would help offset some of the cuts.

The relief package distributed nearly $82 million to colleges statewide with at least 50% being required to provide direct aid to students.

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