NU Board of Regents approves 2020-21 university operating budget

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Friday unanimously approved the NU system’s 2020-21 operating budget. 

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Friday unanimously approved the NU system’s 2020-21 operating budget.

It comes after NU officials announced $43 million in spending cuts would be necessary over the next three years to balance the budget, as the system wrangles with the impacts of COVID-19.

President Ted Carter said, despite the uncertainty, the university is in a position of relative strength.

“This budget plan puts our students and the people of Nebraska first,” Carter said.

Carter credited a recent surge in applications from first-time Nebraska students to a “bias for action” in making enrollment the NU system’s highest strategic priority.

For example, the university will increase its investment in need-based financial aid, freeze tuition rates across the board in the next biennium, and reduce and standardize across campuses most of its resident, undergraduate online tuition rates.

Carter said work remains to be done before the start of the fall semester, but says, from a financial perspective, things are looking good.

Key elements of the three-year budget plan outlined by Carter include:

·         A two-year, across-the-board tuition freeze in the 2021-2022 and 2022-23 academic years. The state’s support helped keep tuition increases minimal in the current two-year budget cycle, including a 2.75 increase for 2020-21 that was approved by the Board last year.

·         Creation of the Nebraska Promise financial aid program, which will cover full tuition costs for Nebraska students with family incomes of $60,000 or less. The program is expected to cover 1,000 additional low- and middle-income students.

·         No increase in the salary pool for non-unionized faculty and staff for 2020-21, but plans to invest in salary increases each of the following two years, so that all employees, bargained or not, will be eligible for a 4.5 percent total merit-based increase over the three-year period.

·         $43 million in permanent state-aided spending cuts across the system, the result of lost revenue and increased expenses brought on by COVID-19. The revenue declines include a projected decline in tuition revenue from nonresident and international students.

NU’s cuts will be spread over three years to help mitigate the pain: 0.2 percent in 2020-21, 1.6 percent in 2021-22 and 2.6 percent in 2022-23. NU’s Central Administration office will take a 10 percent cut to its budget, while each chancellor will lead a campus-specific budget reduction process.

·         A planned 2 percent annual increase in state support in the next biennium. The modest increase reflects the university’s commitment to being a good partner to Gov. Pete Ricketts, Appropriations Committee Chairman John Stinner and the Legislature as they work through fiscal challenges at the state level. The Board will consider NU’s 2021-23 budget request to the state at its August meeting.

·         $20 million in the next biennium to advance strategic priorities of the president and chancellors, like student access and success, faculty compensation, diversity and inclusion, and building renewal and repair. These will be among the priorities lifted up in Carter’s five-year strategic plan, to be unveiled at the Aug. 14 Board meeting in conjunction with his formal installation as NU’s eighth president.

Categories: Nebraska News, News