USM makes changes to budget after consecutive enrollment decreas - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

USM makes changes to budget after consecutive enrollment decrease

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi has put a budgeting plan into place after losing approximately $2.3 million in tuition due to an enrollment decrease.

“As we plan for how we're going to manage the institution this year, we have to think about how we're going to live within the available revenue we have,” said USM's Vice President for Finance and Administration Dr. Douglas Vinzant.

Vinzant said departments have already started making lists of things that can be cut in the budget, which will then be handed over to President Rodney Bennett and his Cabinet for review.

“Just like a family or business, if you have revenue declines, then you have to adjust your spending plan, so that's what this is about,” explained Vinzant.

Those recommendations are expected to turn into action items by the end of the fall semester, according to Vinzant. Although no specific cuts have been made, Vinzant said it will be a “wide variety of things,” including open employee positions.

“Most of our budget is invested in employees,” he said.

The university operates a $345 million budget, and the largest portion is shared between tuition and fees and state appropriations. That totals to $203 million, with tuition and fees providing approximately $110 million and state appropriations bringing in $85 million.

Vinzant said moving forward, USM will have to think of budgeting on a "multi-year" basis and more directly market the university to students' needs.

“When you have two or three successive years of decline in enrollment, that's reason for paying attention to your bottom line, and that's exactly what we're doing,” he said. “Rather than waiting until the spring when you might ordinarily be working on the annual budget, we're kicking this off as soon as we knew what the fall numbers were.”

USM lost 404 students between the 2013 and 2014 school years, which was a 2.6 percent decrease and a total enrollment of 14,845, according to the state Institutions of Higher Learning.

For a full list of enrollment numbers for Mississippi's public universities, click here.

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