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A new committee will be formed to address the budget shortfall announced by President Allison Garrett on Jan. 13. The potential shortfall for this fiscal year is between $500,000 and $1.3 million.

“A university-wide representative group will meet to determine a process to facilitate the approaches and action plans to solve for both our short-and long-term needs: Identify $500,000 - $1.3 million in cost savings for (fiscal year) 2020, and create a sustainable budget model for FY 2021 and beyond,” Garrett said in an email sent out to faculty and staff on Jan. 13.

The amount of savings needed for the remainder of the fiscal year will be determined after the student headcount is taken on the 20th day of classes. The shortfall represents about 3% of the current operating budget.

“The short term (plan) is that we have to make some decisions about this year's budget prior to June 30th,” said Diana Kuhlmann, vice president of administration and finance. “The short term remedies will take place over the next five months. The longer term (we’re) not really sure what that looks like. That’ll be the next phase that we talk about.”

This shortfall is due to several factors including decreased state funds, limited resources and changing student populations according to Garrett. Despite a 1.3 percent increase in undergraduate students between Fall 2018 and Fall 2019, student mix and demographics are changing, which has an impact on the budget.

“(Student) mix would be whether it’s undergraduate versus graduate students,” Kuhlmann said. “Are they resident students versus non-resident students? Are they on campus students versus online students? The reason that is important is because there are different rates for those different demographics.”

According to Kuhlmann, this is not the first time a committee like this has been formed at Emporia State.

“We had a budget advisory committee (a few years back) and whether it will look the same or look different, we haven’t determined because I think this is a different kind of conversation that will be over a longer amount of time than last time,” Kuhlmann said.

While there are currently no programs or services at immediate risk, potential changes will be discussed moving forward.

“The whole breadth of whether there are expanded services or truncated services or programs are all going to be a part of discussions as we move forward and what they look like, or modifications to services and programs,” Kuhlmann said.

While committee is going to help solve short term problems, the goal is to have them help prevent similar issues in the future according to Gwen Larson, director of media relations.

“Not only is this group going to look at what we need to do with the current budget we’re in, but the other goal is to look at how we create budgets going forward,” Larson said. “We know that our funding ebbs and flows, that’s the nature of higher education across the country...I think for parents, that’s showing that we are looking forward at sustainability and long term health.”

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