Budgeting is something that most students become familiar with at some point during their college careers, but students aren’t the only ones on campus who are working to make their checkbooks balance.
ETSU must also follow a budgeting plan, and believe it or not, ETSU’s student body, numbered at 14,500, plays a much larger role in the budget than one may think.
“Many years ago, when you go back fifteen or twenty years, state appropriations typically accounted for about 70 percent [of the budget] and fees was about 30 percent,” said David Collins, vice president for finance and administration. “We’ve completely switched around now. So really, the tuition and fees is accounting for about 71 percent and state appropriation is about 29 percent. [Student enrollment] has become much more important in the overall budget because of the reductions that we have encountered over the last years.”
With such a drastic flip in the source of ETSU’s income, Collins said measures are being taken to increase student enrollment. He also said that not only are they focusing on bringing in new students, but it is important for them to focus on student retention, as well.
Collins said that each time a new budget is made, ETSU conducts institutional research to estimate how enrollment will change in the coming semesters. The budgeting committee then uses that information to build the budget around the funds that should be coming in based on the numbers.
Usually these estimations are very close to what actually occurs with enrollment levels.
“When we did our budget for this current year, we had planned for a 200-student drop and made reductions as necessary depending on what we thought tuition and fee levels were going to be, because that helps some,” Collins said. “Actually, we came in better. Our plans have been what we expected, so we have not had to make further reductions or anything else at this point.”
If estimations are off and the actual funds are not what they were projected to be, Collins said that reductions are first made at smaller levels, such as with the deans and department heads, and then travel up to the larger levels of ETSU’s infrastructure.
“This is the first time in many years that we have really been expecting some increases with the governor’s budget,” Collins said, “so the VPs are working with their staff to bring forward any requests for potential funding to be justified.”
Collins said that if the recent legislative proposals concerning the changes with the TBR are approved, they will not impact ETSU’s budget for several years. He also said that the funds for constructing the football stadium have been integrated into student fees for years now, so that also has not introduced any unexpected changes or setbacks to the budget.