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CSU hosts open forum on incremental budget

Colorado+State+University%E2%80%99s+Division+of+University+Operations+held+an+open+forum+panel+on+CSU%E2%80%99s+incremental+budget+Feb+14.
Collegian | Julia Percy
Colorado State University Operations held an open forum panel on CSU’s incremental budget Feb 14. Brendan Hanlon, vice president for university operations, presented the budget with colleagues Rick Miranda, Marion Underwood and Angie Nielsen.

Recently, Colorado State University hosted a budget forum welcoming students and staff to engage in a part of a series of presentations regarding the university’s budget and financial plans.

The event, which took place 9-10 a.m. Feb. 14 in the Lory Student Center, included panelists Vice President for University Operations Brendan Hanlon, Senior Vice President Rick Miranda, Office of Budgets Director Angie Nielsen and Provost and Executive Vice President Marion Underwood.

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During the forum, panelists provided updates on the planning of CSU’s incremental budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year and presented their findings from past years. The university hopes to design a brand-new budget model that will foster transparency in CSU’s financial decision-making processes.

Currently, CSU and other universities across the state of Colorado are looking to the state for more funding and support for higher education.

“Five times in the last 20 years, the state support has been low or lower than what is being currently proposed,” Hanlon said.

The uncertainties surrounding state support have left many budget matters up in the air due to the influence it has on CSU’s financial state.

“Six times when not coupled with state and or market tuition controls, the (CSU) System institutions have struggled to improve compensation those years,” Hanlon said. “There is a direct impact of state support and compensation increases because it is one of the three legs of the stool when it comes to our revenue profile, enrollment growth, tuition rate increase (and) state support. So this is a significant contributor.”

In addition to state funding, CSU is working on tuition changes that occur naturally due to changes in state funding and enrollment.

“Our enrollment growth and our tuition are tethered together, and one pressures the other,” Hanlon said. “We increase tuition too much, that dampens enrollment — and then you get into a situation where you’re undermining your revenue profile, so it’s something that we’re going to have to balance out.”

The university has seen record-high numbers of enrollment in recent years, with the past two years being the third and first largest enrollment classes.

“That’s why we’ve tried to, over the years, adopt a growth model in terms of enrollment to try to support these other two areas, one that we’re going to have to use less of in tuition and one that has been relatively uncertain over time: state funds,” Hanlon said.

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While many higher education institutions are struggling with these issues, it is not necessarily new to CSU, which means the university has a better understanding of what solutions there are.

“It’s not unfamiliar territory to us, and we’ve been looking at university budgets for quite a while,” Miranda said. “We see some ways to sort of shave the problem down. We think we’re going to need some form of reallocation or budget cuts in order to make the numbers work this year.”

However, it is unlikely that any reallocation or budget cuts will harm student success and progress around the university.

“We do not wish to undermine student success with this reallocation exercise, and to help that happen, I’m asking the deans to share their strategies with each other to make sure that one college doesn’t make a decision that could hurt the progress of students in another college,” Underwood said.

Although planning for a new budget has been a struggle, the university remains optimistic and is aiming to remain transparent with the community during this process.

“None of this is easy,” Underwood said. “We want to do our very best to preserve our priorities and to still invest in things that are important to the university. So I know this is difficult. None of it diminishes my enthusiasm for having joined this university.”

Those who were unable to attend this session and others prior can watch recordings and view presentation slides posted by University Operations. The goal of these forums is to foster transparency around university budget matters and encourage students and staff to remain active in such conversations.

Reach Laila Shekarchian at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @CSUCollegian.

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