BY CHASE GORSKI
Salisbury University students have seen a two percent increase in tuition for the academic year of 2017 due to budgetary adjustments by the university and the University System of Maryland (USM).
In a presentation at a Student Government Association (SGA) forum, Vice President of Administration and Finance Marvin Lee Pyles presented the university’s shift in budget and outlined the causes.
The Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee handles the university’s yearly financial plans, helping to make decisions regarding the allocating of funds depending on state support and revenue from the previous year.
The goal of the committee is to help further the university towards its goals while also creating a realistic budget in compliance of the USM.
Before finalization, numerous sub-committees assess all aspects of the university’s yearly goals, identify immediate needs and help to determine the focus of university spending before making a proposal. It begins with the University’s Division of Administration and Finance and is eventually approved for the upcoming year.
“We are always dealing with at least two budget years at a time,” Associate VP of Administration and Finance Anthony Pasquariello said.
The committee is often monitoring the current fiscal year, while also using it to plan ahead for the next year’s budget.
As for this year, the school’s fiscal year of 2018, the budget was constructed after comparing the previous year’s total revenue with total expenditures.
In his presentation Lee Pyles showed charts that outlined where SU was receiving revenue in 2017, which totaled almost $200 million. The major contributions included 38 percent ($75.5 million) from tuition and fees, 26 percent ($51.8 million) from state appropriations and 29 percent ($57.6 million) coming from auxiliary sources such as athletics, dining and the university bookstore.
The presentation went on to explain some of the aspects that alter a budget throughout the year, mainly adjustments that occur within the USM. The USM’s bi-annual salary survey can affect the university’s budget often, and did last year.
In the fiscal year of 2017 the USM mandated a change in specific non-exempt positions, raising the minimum salaries which caused SU to account for an extra $219,554 to cover the change.
“They go through and decide Position A should be paid at $40,000 per year,” Pasquariello said. “We then look at anybody who is in Position A and bump them up to $40,000 to be in compliance.”
The university also saw a 1 percent decrease, totaling $560,000, from the amount of money that the state provides to SU.
“The state’s been in a chronic budget situation for multiple years now, these ‘take backs’ happen periodically,” Pasquariello said.
These ‘take backs’ cause the university to come up with the funds to give back to the state, often leading to spending cuts as well as minor tuition increases.
Coming into the fiscal year of 2018 dealing with a budget reduction of $560,000 SU increased tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates by two percent. The increase for undergraduates that are non-residents was five percent.
While it may seem minor in the grand scheme, these miniature increases can sometimes add up when they continue. As the committee continues to look forward to the fiscal year of 2019, there are already ideas of where the budget will land.
“The USM is projecting another 2 percent increase for undergrad residents,” Pasquariello said.
While it has been a long time since a mid-year tuition increase at Salisbury University, the shifts in budget throughout the year can affect any tuition alterations for next year. Early on this semester SU already experienced a budget cut from the state of over $325,000 with a potential for another $360,000 at some point throughout the year.
Despite these cuts though, the state has helped the university in a much larger aspect than last year in regards to the Guerrieri Academic Commons.
Typically, after new buildings are constructed on campuses the state would cover operation funds of those buildings. Due to budgetary issues, SU had to cover the operation fees without state assistance, which was over $2 million.
“This year we had almost $2.4 million as opposed to last year to operate the GAC,” Pasquariello said. “Budget wise we are in a much better position this year than we were in the fiscal year of 2017.”
One of the biggest aspects of the university’s budget is that it is constantly evolving, and the committee is forced to deal with numerous road blocks throughout the semester including new facilities and state funding cuts. While much of the planning is done before the year begins, it is always subject to change.
As for the effect on students, it is clear that these shifts can alter tuition rates and while at once it may seem miniscule, multiple years of small increases can add up.