Lower enrollment affecting university budget

By Anna Carrera

Published 06/09 2014 01:26PM

Updated 06/11 2014 02:31PM

Latest: 6:07 pm, 6/9/14, Monday
CHARLESTON -- Leaders at EIU need to make about $10 million in cuts during next year. More than half would come from payroll. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera finds out how workers are responding.

They hope retirements will help ease the cuts which need to be made, but that much money will have a big impact on the university going forward. The college students choose makes a big difference in where life leads. Last year, about 8,000 picked EIU.

"I've been able to learn and experience so much from it all," said EIU senior Andrew Lilek.  

That number has been dropping for years. Total enrollment went from 12,179 in 2007 to 9,775 in 2013 (including graduate students), said Patrick Early, who is the assistant vice president for communications. That's affecting the university's bottom line.

"We were going to have a deficit of about $10 million," said Paul McCann, who is the interim vice president of business affairs.  

Of that, about $6 million will come from personnel which could mean upwards of 100 people out of a job.

"When we start looking at how we can save money, and significant amounts of money, the bottom line falls to payroll," said McCann.  

School leaders say one reason for the drop in enrollment; more students are picking UI instead. But some say they're happy with their choice.

"This was a wonderful fit for me. I would not be where I am today without Eastern," said Lilek.  

"There is a lot more personal interaction with the professors and with other students and things like that," said EIU senior Brian Wood.  

While EIU leaders will spend less on faculty, they're going to invest more in scholarships and tuition waivers.

"I understand money, so I realize how much debt I'm going into when I have to take loans and things like that, so it is a big relief," said Wood.  

And, they're holding the line on tuition and fees for the upcoming year.

"We're also trying to make it affordable for some of the future students to come here," said McCann.  

University leaders say, even if they're hard, choices they make now will impact the school's future.

"We have started making some changes to the budget so we can survive," said McCann.  

Another issue EIU is dealing with is state funds. The state still owes the university a quarter of its appropriations, with one month left in the fiscal year. That accounts for $11 million.
Update: 4:32 pm, 6/9/14, Monday
CHARLESTON -- Ten million dollars. That's how much Eastern Illinois University leaders need to cut after a two-year budget was approved. The university's biggest expense is people and more than half the savings will have to come from them.

Enrollment has been dropping at EIU the last few years. So, with less money coming in, the university doesn't have as much to spend. School leaders say increasing enrollment at UI has contributed to that, plus people are still struggling to afford higher education because of the economy.

University leaders say that's why they're taking a new approach to bring students here. While most budgets are shrinking, one area is growing; scholarships and waivers. University leaders say they hope more students will come if that have that added incentive.

It's hard to say for sure how many people will be affected by the cuts. $6 million worth of faculty and staff could add up to about 140 people. The university may need to make even more personnel cuts in the future. EIU planned to spend $113 million on payroll in this fiscal year. That number is down to $105 million for 2015. In 2016, that number could drop to $99 million.
Original: 10:03 pm, 6/6/14, Friday
CHARLESTON -- A new grant makes it a little easier for families to afford tuition at EIU. The school is creating an EIU Opportunity Fund. The money will be given to students who can't qualify for Pell Grants because of family income. Students will be offered $1,000 for up to four years. School leaders say they hope the grant will reduce expected family payments and loans.

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