University of Nebraska releases 2009-10 budget
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken today released details of the 2009-10 operating budget that will be presented to the Board of Regents for approval on June 12. Milliken expressed his optimism for the university despite current economic conditions.
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“Nebraska’s economy, despite the many challenges we face, is in better shape than that of many other states,” he said. “Also, the management of both the state and the university in recent years has put us in a strong position relative to other states and to the university’s peer institutions. We have significant momentum in key areas including enrollment, research funding, program development and financial aid. Our ability to invest in the quality of the university can give the University of Nebraska a competitive advantage at a time when almost all other states are making deeper cuts and have less ability to capitalize on opportunities.”

Highlights of the budget include:
  • A 1.5 percent salary pool to fund faculty and staff salary increases on the basis of merit and competitiveness; the pool is not for an across-the-board increase.
  • Funding to cover the projected increase in health insurance premiums for participating employees and a new life insurance benefit equal to one year’s salary, up to $120,000. Benefits increases will go into effect Jan. 1, 2010.
  • A 4 percent increase in undergraduate tuition – the lowest increase in more than a decade, and the second-lowest in over 20 years. Full-time resident undergraduate students carrying 15 credit hours will pay approximately $150-200 more per year under the proposal.
  • A 4 percent increase in financial aid including the Collegebound Nebraska program, which will mean that students with the greatest financial need will be held harmless from the increase in tuition.
  • A $1.2 million student assistance fund to provide for unexpected financial circumstances during the school year.
  • A $3 million investment in academic programs of excellence. These are one-time funds that will be used strategically by the President to strengthen the university’s position in key areas, with potential uses including hiring outstanding faculty, or starting or enhancing a program for which there is a clear need.
  • A $10.3 million expenditure to complete the implementation of a new university-wide Student Information System, with funds coming from savings held by the state from the LB 1100 building initiative.
  • Continued investment in LB 605 facilities renovation and construction projects across the university.

The budget includes a shortfall of $8.5 million in 2009-10, which will be allocated to the campuses on this basis:
  • UNL: $3.7 million, which represents a 1.1 percent cut in campus budget
  • UNO: $2.2 million, which represents a 2.0 percent cut
  • UNMC: $1.7 million, which represents a 1.1 percent cut
  • UNK: $.8 million, which represents a 1.4 percent cut

Milliken said that the campuses have employed cost-savings measures over the past six months that have resulted in savings of approximately $7 million, primarily by not filling many positions, deferring maintenance, reducing expenditures in areas such as travel and deferring equipment purchases. The Governor and Legislature have encouraged savings by allowing unspent state funds to be carried over to the next fiscal year, which Milliken says will make the process of permanent budget reductions easier to manage.

The University must continue to maintain affordable access for Nebraska families, Milliken said. “The federal Pell Grant was increased by more than $600 this year, which will be a tremendous help to many families. In addition, we have expanded the Collegebound Nebraska program so that most Nebraska families with an annual income of $50,000 or less can send their son or daughter to the University of Nebraska and pay no tuition. Also, we expect a substantial increase in the number of Buffett Scholars across our campuses next year, which will provide many more Nebraskans with the chance to attend the University. In addition, the new $1.2 million Student Assistance Fund will provide help for unexpected circumstances during the school year. These investments represent the highest level of financial aid in history.”

The 4 percent tuition increase is the lowest since 1996-97 and the second lowest in more than 20 years, Milliken said. University of Nebraska campuses are well below the average tuition charged by their peers. For 2008-09, UNL ranked 8th among 11 peer institutions, 23 percent below the peer average; UNO ranked 9th among 11 peer institutions, 14 percent below the peer average; UNK ranked 10th among 11 peer institutions, 28 percent below the peer average. Average undergraduate tuition increases among peers are expected to exceed those at NU campuses; however, even if every peer institution had a zero percent tuition increase and Nebraska increased tuition 4 percent, all campuses would continue to be well below peer averages: UNK would remain 10th and UNL would remain 8th; UNO move up one spot to 8th of 11.

Regional comparisons: 2009-2010 (as of June 5, 2009)
State funding for higher education Tuition Salaries/Personnel impact
Nebraska + 1.5% +4% proposed Salary pool +1.5%
Iowa State -13.9% (-$38 million)
Adding $31.5 million in one-time stimulus funds
+4.2% Salaries frozen through 6/2010; salary cap being considered
Iowa U -$34 million in permanent reductions; Adding $34 million in one-time stimulus funds including $19 million to forestall furloughs +4.2% Salaries frozen through 6/2010; salary cap being considered
Kansas U -10% (-$85 million) +4-6% proposed Faculty and staff furloughs may be required; no merit increases, no salary pool except for promotion and tenure pending board approval
Missouri U 0%; adding $24 million in one-time stimulus funds 0% Hiring freeze continues; 0% salary increase
Colorado U $50 million cut filled with one-time stimulus funds; CU Boulder will make permanent reductions of $12.9 million +3.9% + increase in paid credit hour requirement 75 positions eliminated; no general salary increases; very small pool for retention
Colorado State $30 million base reduction filled with one time stimulus funds + 9% 40 jobs lost for FY2010; salary freeze anticipated

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