13 years ago
Neha Chinai

Despite last semester’s tuition hike, UTD’s $106 million budget for the 2005 fiscal year is a “scrimp and save” budget – that will require the reallocating funds from administrative sectors to academic departments.

Dubbing it the “keep hope alive” budget, Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president for academic affairs, says the financial situation is grim, adding the university is faced with several unsolvable problems, given the restricted funding.

Tuition increases from spring and the coming fall will bring in $10 million for the 2005 fiscal year budget. Despite the increase in revenue, expenses exceed income.

“(The funds) have been all chewed up by modest salary increases,” Wildenthal said.

After deducting a federally mandated 15 percent for financial aid, this spring’s hike netted approximately $2.8 million. Wildenthal said $1 million went to pay for health insurance for “research and teaching assistants who were promised to be held harmless,” after the legislature cut funding. The remaining $1.8 million went to a 2 percent mid-year salary raise for the staff.

The faculty’s workload is growing as class sizes increase, Wildenthal said, adding the 15 new faculty positions will be a welcome addition.

The new faculty have been hired for $2.4 million, which will come partially from the last of the tuition increases and partially from this year’s operating budget.

Wildenthal said as funds become available, he hopes to hire more faculty. “We’ve squeezed as much as we can from our $30 million non-academic operations,” Wildenthal said.

Even after all possible measures have been taken, the university will spend $2 million more than it collects in the 2005 fiscal year.

The shortfall will be taken from the university’s approximate $20 million reserve fund.

The deficit to date has been drawn from the University’s reserves account, Wildenthal said, but the money must be returned to the fund.

“The reserve accounts only allow for small oscillations,” Wildenthal said.

While he acknowledged the need for future tuition increases, Wildenthal expects a simultaneous increase in applications for financial aid.

He said 15 percent of the spring semester’s tuition hike went back out in the form of financial aid.

Administrators are looking to the next legislative session for increased appropriations. While the university lost $10 million in the legislature’s last session in what Wildenthal called a “blood bath”- an increase for higher education is “certainly not impossible,” according to Wildenthal.

He hopes the improving economy will lead to increased tax receipts and more money available for higher education.

The most significant factor in obtaining legislative appropriations is a formula based on the university’s enrollment.

“We can’t do anything about that but recruit and teach students. (Commitment to higher education) is a choice we make, and we have to stick by it,” Wildenthal said.