AUSTIN (Nexstar) — College students are returning to classes across the state, all with varying protocols. At the same time, universities are juggling financial adjustments brought on by the pandemic.
“As we move into this fall, we’re projecting that will probably be down about 3% in enrollment. We hope that is not the case, but we have budgeted for that in the coming year,” Dr. Todd Rasberry, the VP for Philanthropy and External Affairs at West Texas A&M University said, adding that those projections won’t be final for several weeks.
“Some of it is the uncertainty of students as they enter this fall with the delta variant spike,” Rasberry explained.
Universities were already feeling the effects of the pandemic before this fall.
The University of Texas reported an $8.5 million shortfall year-to-year from 2020 to 2021.
On top of that, the governor asked all of the state’s higher education systems to cut back to lessen the financial blow of the pandemic to the state’s budget.
But, most have avoided cutting from any academic programs.
“Because of the pandemic, there was less travel, there was less conferences. So there were some areas that we can naturally cut back on, and still be able to have no cuts in our academic programs or student services,” Noel Sloan, the Chief Financial Officer for Texas Tech University said Thursday.
Some of the cuts were creative. At West Texas A&M, the university decided to kick funding for its on-campus transportation. But, students will still be able to catch a ride.
“The folks in our Parking and Transportation Department had devised a plan with a local agency here to take over that for us and run it on our campus free of charge to our students,” Rasberry explained.
TTU and Texas State University are both projecting higher enrollment this year, but those numbers won’t be finalized until mid-September, either.