Though South Carolina State University will make $476,456 less in tuition and fees than it expected for the fall semester, its finances are stable, Assistant Vice President of Finance John Smalls says.
He reported to the board's budget committee on Thursday that the shortfall is largely due to the university's having fewer full-time students than expected. The projected budget was based on 4,250 students, but the university only has 4,068 enrolled.
"If the shortfall continues for the spring semester as it has this fall, we could have a $1 million shortfall for the year," Smalls said.
The university is projected to take in $67 million this year, which is $2.5 million more than it is expected to spend, he said. That would cover the loss and still leave the university with a gain of $1.5 million.
However, the university is working to cover the shortfall so it can keep the whole $2.5 million to build up a reserve fund.
"We are continuing the measures we put in place last year, continuing the hiring freeze and monitoring operating costs closely," he said.
Comparing this year's expenses to the same time period in 2009-10, the university has saved a total of $2 million in personnel services and $6 million in operating expenses, Smalls said.
"We feel if we keep these monitoring practices in place, we should be able to make up this $476,000, but even if we don't, we still have funds built into our budget to cover the shortfall as it stands," he said.
Smalls reported that the budget was designed to build up a reserve balance.
"Reserves are very important," he said. "Had we not had those reserves two years ago, with the massive cuts we had, we would have had catastrophic results at the university."
At this time, the university has less than $1 million in reserve, Smalls said.
After the board's June meeting, he reported that the reserve was about $500,000. Ideally, the reserve should be a minimum of $6 million to $10 million, he said.
The university's five-year budget plan calls for building the surplus each year, Smalls said.
Dr. Joyce Blackwell, vice president for academic affairs, reported to the board that the university is working to become more "visible" in the community and is building on programs that are already in place.
One way of doing that is to establish partnerships with more K-12 schools across the state, Blackwell said. The Department of Education is giving more funding to institutions that partner with schools.
The newest partnership is with Horry County Public Schools, Blackwell said. Calhoun County and Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five have also expressed interest in some form of partnership with S.C. State.
Blackwell reported the university is planning to host a meeting with the academic leaders of area Historically Black Colleges and Universities to talk about forming a consortium to share faculties, courses and other resources.
"We have a relationship with our public universities, but we really don't have a really formal arrangement with our private HBCUs," she said. "It's a great way to meet the needs of students at a time when resources and funding are so limited."
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