Illinois State University President Larry Dietz has asked the school’s financial leaders to craft FY2021 budget scenarios that anticipate reductions of 10% and 20% when compared to the current FY2020 budget.
In a Monday morning email addressed to vice presidents, cabinet members and fiscal leaders, Dietz said the university’s financial picture is seriously clouded by a range of COVID-19 complications.
Dietz asked the financial leaders to place all funding sources and expenditure types “on the table for consideration.” He asked the vice presidents and cabinet-level fiscal authorities to have summaries of the scenarios prepared for discussion by June 1. The current budget fiscal years expires on June 30.
“Due to the pandemic, Illinois State recently refunded to students and families approximately $20 million in housing, dining, parking, and student fees,” Dietz wrote. “The University has also absorbed additional unexpected costs and lost revenues from cancelled events bringing the total financial impact to date close to $26 million. Meanwhile, although we hope the Illinois General Assembly will approve a fiscal year 2021 budget similar to last year's spending plan, there are no guarantees, and lawmakers are currently contemplating potential FY2021 budget reductions.”
The president said school officials will not likely know about FY2021 state appropriations “for at least several weeks, and that could stretch to a couple of months.”
The school’s primary revenue stream is sourced by enrollment. Dietz said that enrollment has traditionally “been Illinois State's source of strength and stability.”
“However, again, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students and families are waiting much longer than usual in making higher education commitments, adding to the uncertainty. Usually, students make their attendance decisions by May 1, but pandemic uncertainty will push that timetable back until later this month, or beyond,” the president wrote.
Because of the myriad of financial uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dietz wrote: “I am asking our vice presidents and cabinet-level fiscal authorities to prepare FY2021 budget scenarios with both 10 percent and 20 percent reductions compared to FY2020. They will work with fiscal leaders throughout their respective divisions and units to define what this will mean for each area.”
Dietz said in all FY2021 budget scenarios, the “underlying budgetary rationale must be to maintain Illinois State's outstanding reputation for delivering a high-quality, higher education experience. We must also act in a manner that provides the safest environment possible for the University's students, faculty, staff, and visitors."