Kalamazoo, MI
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Upcoming College Budget Falls Short of Expectations

President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran revealed that she and her staff were grappling to deal with a budget deficit of $900,000 for the upcoming academic year when she wrote a letter to the campus community on November 17 of last fall. She wrote that, based on current expectations for expenses and revenue, the college has taken the initiative to search for solutions to the problem.

Wilson-Oyelaran attributed the imbalanced budget to an increased sophomore class with more study abroad costs, as well as ensuring that there is adequate funding available for financial aid, and has committed herself to finding a solution before the end of this academic year. Jim Prince, Vice President for Business and Finance, is gripping much of this responsibility.

Prince develops financial models spanning 5 years based on assumptions, and makes adjustments based on present conditions such as expected enrolment, financial aid, and faculty costs, among others. This helps to give an idea whether the College’s budget can withstand upcoming expenses and their plans for growth. At the moment, the model suggests that there will be a gap in facilitating college operations.

Prince stated that along with his fellow vice presidents, they have started to review their budgets for the upcoming year, and they are seeking areas where they can find savings without harming the interests of the students. “The key here is that we look at all of these things in terms of potential savings from the context of ‘Is it hurting the student involvement here?’ because it’s critical that it does not hurt the students,” said Prince.

So far they have found a little over $700,000 in savings and are still seeking out other ways to plug this gap. Prince said that the college was in the process of exploring revenue generating activities but was quick to note that tuition was not one of them. While the college already had plans to increase the tuition rates for next year, which is still subject to approval by the Board of Trustees, they don’t see themselves amending that rate increase before it goes to a final vote in February. To that, Prince said “we would never add any more. We could go back to the board and ask for a higher increase, but we won’t do that.”

“We’re at a point where we’re going to keep looking at what other ideas we could look at in the budget, to pull that into a balanced budget. Our requirement is to present a balanced budget to the Board [of Trustees] in June.”

Meanwhile, Prince will seek to keep the campus community updated on the progress of their planning through his annual budget presentation scheduled to take place around 7th or 8th week. He plans to present the state of the budget, and the tactics they will employ to plug the gap and ensure the college’s financial viability, with accompanying presentations from Eric Staab and Al DeSimone to provide added context.

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Upcoming College Budget Falls Short of Expectations