State Budget UpdateJuly 12, 2011
Dear Carolina Faculty and Staff:
We are facing a very difficult year. Across campus, units are going to be cutting budgets even more than they’ve already been cut. We’ll see more programs eliminated, larger class sizes for our students and additional layoffs.
The budget that the General Assembly passed was, by necessity, austere. I wish that higher education had been spared the deep cuts that we face, particularly after the consecutive years of cuts that we have endured. But the reality is that Carolina’s overall permanent cut in state appropriations totals 17.9 percent, or more than $100 million. This fiscal year, that cut will be offset by $20 million transferred from UNC Health Care to help the University and our School of Medicine absorb the cuts.
We’re grateful to Bill Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health Care, and to the health care executive board for approving the transfer. UNC Health Care annually transfers funds to the School of Medicine for mission, academic and clinical support.
Our reductions are higher than those of the other campuses in the system. There are several reasons for that. The legislature’s final budget prevented the UNC Board of Governors from distributing the cuts equally across the campuses, so several factors were considered. The availability of other sources of revenue – contracts, grants, private gifts and the transfer of health care system funds – was a significant factor in our receiving a larger percentage cut. Carolina's state appropriations account for about a fourth of our operating budget, whereas the other campuses rely more heavily on state funds.
Other factors that were taken into consideration were graduation and retention rates, which worked in Carolina's favor, and percentages of low-income students, which favored other campuses in the system.
From a practical standpoint, Carolina’s ability to take a larger cut helped soften the blow at smaller UNC institutions with fewer resources. But in the end, the result was the same for all of our state universities – dramatic cuts that threaten our ability to educate the next generation of leaders.
On a positive note, the budget includes allocations for enrollment growth and revenue generated by the 6.5 percent tuition increase the Board of Trustees and BOG approved earlier this year.
The legislature's budget also included funding for need-based financial aid, graduate student tuition remissions and building reserves, and out-of-state students who earn academic scholarships are allowed to pay in-state tuition rates. We’ll also realize the savings that began July 1 from the nearly 5 percent permanent cut we proactively took last spring. But unlike last year, there will be no supplemental tuition hike to cushion the effect of budget cuts.
I know that all of you want to know what these numbers mean for your school, department and unit. Your best source of information will be at the unit level from your vice chancellors, deans, department chairs and directors. And it may take them a few weeks to determine exactly how these cuts will affect your units.
We’ll continue to protect the classroom experience for our students as much as possible. Cuts at the unit level will continue to reflect the priority we place on our teaching mission. But we expect our students to feel the impact more than ever this year through larger class sizes and fewer course sections in the College of Arts and Sciences and some professional schools. We’ll do everything we can to minimize damage to our academic offerings, but there will be some painful results.
Thank you for your patience during this budget process. I know that all of you believe as I do … North Carolina’s universities are the key to our state’s future economic growth and job creation. We will do everything possible to keep Carolina strong, and I’m confident that we can emerge stronger thanks to the commitment that all of you have demonstrated throughout this difficult time.
For updated information, refer to universityrelations.unc.edu/budget.