Higher Education
10:27 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

MSU Interim President Uses Planned Cuts to Gain Support for Tuition Increase

Murray State University Interim President Tim Miller is looking to $2.5m in cuts and a possible tuition increase to fix a predicted $5.7m budget shortfall  in the coming year.

Miller presented a budget development worksheet, a list of potential cuts and new revenue projections at a forum on campus Thursday.  Miller says the documents presented at the forum are preliminary. Many variables remain in play. The university is still waiting on a state budget that is likely to include a 2.5% cut to MSU’s direct state appropriations.

“And the (state) house (of representatives) has said they are not going to change the Governor’s budget and if it comes out of the house with a 2.5% cut that is what we are going to end up with,” said Miller.

A 2.5% cut totals $1.2m.  Murray State started the fiscal year with a $1.1m budget shortfall. An anticipated $2.5m in increased fixed costs and $4.4m in priority spending  for the new programs at the new Paducah campus, recruitment initiatives and maintenance among other line items bring a total predicted shortfall less some revenue generating projects of $5.7M.

To patch less than half of the hole, Miller will present a list of potential cuts and new revenue options to the Board of Regents totaling $2.5m.

Miller says a tuition increase looks to be the only other option to fill the remaining $3.2m, excluding using reserves to fill the budget gap or layoffs.

“I want the students to see that we are trying to get our house in order with these $2.5m in cuts but also I want the students to know that they’ve got to help us.”

Budget presentation slide showing tuition costs at all state universities.
Budget presentation slide showing tuition costs at all state universities.

Miller says Murray State is the second lowest priced state university in Kentucky, edging out Kentucky State University. But, according to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education KSU is more expensive on average for resident students by $16 per year.

Miller says a five percent increase in tuition would yield  $3.5m and take care of the deficit without any additional cuts.   A five percent tuition increase for the average student would equal $176 per semester or $352 per year.

Miller says that if the deficit remains and is too large he would have to recommend cutting personnel.

Kentucky’s Council on Post-Secondary Education has, in recent history, set tuition caps at  state universities, so it is unclear if a 5% increase is even an option.  Below are the caps set by the CPE from 2009 through 2014.

2009/10- 4%

2010/11-5%

2011/12-5%

2012/13-5%

2013/14-3%

The CPE usually sets the tuition caps in April, and barring a special session the Kentucky Legislature should have a budget in place. Once those gaps are filled Miller and the Murray State Board of Regents can  move forward with crafting a final budget before a new president takes office this summer.