Budget planning helps keep costs down for students
A review of the “2012 Current Funds Budget” shows that enrollment numbers are projected to hold even for the 2013 fiscal year, while Ohio, and WSU in particular, both continue to receive less government financial assistance as the university tries to keep tuition affordable.
For the 2013 fiscal year, which stretches between July 1, 2012, and ends on June 30, 2013, WSU received 41% of its revenue from student fees, totaling over $182.9 million – the largest means of its revenue. The university also earned over $166 million from what the report calls “Government Support,” which includes “state share of instruction”, “other state support”, “local support” and “federal support. “Additionally, WSU received $85 million in “other sources” of revenue, such as private gifts and grants.
Associate Vice President for Budget Planning and Resource Analysis Keith Ralston says WSU’s goal to its students is to keep costs down.
“Ohio, traditionally, is very poorly funded, on average, compared to the rest of the country, thus the higher tuition levels” Ralston said. “Wright State’s tuition level is virtually at the midpoint, though, in terms of national four-year public schools, which is remarkable… a big part of our mission [at WSU] is affordability and access. We try to have as aggressive a financial aid program as possible.”
Ralston added that it is “very difficult” to achieve that mission without proper funding from the state.
From the 2002 to 2012 fiscal years, undergraduate enrollment increased 25.5 percent, graduate/professional enrollment rose 16 percent and enrollment with all students was up 23.8 percent. From fiscal years 2011 to 2012 however, overall enrollment decreased 1.3 percent, while in state tuition for WSU remained below that of Miami University, Ohio University, Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati.
Slide 51 of the report shows that in 1990, for every dollar of tuition WSU charged its students, the university would receive $1.56 in state appropriations. That figure steadily dropped to 47 cents per dollar charged in 2012.
“It makes it for a real tight fiscal picture,” Ralston said.
From 2007 to 2012, Ohio lost 8.8 percent in “state support for higher education,” according to the current funds budget report, which sites a Grapevine Survey that was not adjusted for inflation. During the same time, the U.S. average in changes was a 3.8 percent decrease.
Of the planned expenditures, which Ralston says is what the university “plans to spend” for fiscal year 2013, “Personnel”, which is comprised of salaries and benefits, Freeman says, makes up 69 percent of the budget, at over $207 million, while “Travel” makes up the smallest portion at one percent, or just over $3 million.
“At all colleges and universities across the country, you’re typically going to find that 65 to 70 percent of the expense is personnel,” Ralston said.
Ralston also said that if departments are forced to deviate from their planned expenditures throughout the year, money could be allocated to satisfy needs wherever they may be.
“We operate, largely, in a very decentralized environment, where, in essence, if somebody planned to spend $100 in supplies, and during the course of the year they realized they really need $100 more in communication, then they have that prerogative of transferring the budget,” Ralston said. “You can move parts around. The biggest thing is, is the budget as a whole; we want it to be balanced.”
“A budget is always a moving target. We develop the budget predicated upon what we think the state is going to pay us,” Ralston said. “Now, during the course of all those years, we’ve had years where the state made mid-year budget reductions, which then requires us to scale back our spending. As well, our enrollment goes up and down and Wright State is a very predominately driven enrollment institution. That’s the lion’s share of the revenues that run the university is enrollment and fees.”
Ralston says a presentation for next year’s budget will be given in April.