Western waiting on state before looking at next year’s budget

Shawntaye Hopkins

Western administrators will review numbers and make predictions for the next six months.

Administrators will soon begin preparing a university budget for the 2004-05 academic year after projections for next semester’s enrollment are done.

“We have to get this budget cranking in the next week or so,” Chief Financial Officer Ann Mead said.

Western’s base budget is minus $3.2 million from continuing budget cuts, President Gary Ransdell said.

There will probably be a special Board of Regents meeting in June to approve the budget, but no dates have been set, Mead said.

Enrollment estimates for fall 2004 will help administrators determine whether or not they can create a budget based on enrollment from the fall of 2003, she said.

Enrollment management is currently looking at enrollment trends and studying this year’s high school graduation rates, said Luther Hughes, associate vice president for enrollment management. They are also studying information about the number of students who have already showed interest in Western.

But about 10 percent of the students that register to Western and attend the Orientation Advisement Registration program don’t show up when school starts, Hughes said.

Some students register to several schools before deciding which one they will attend, he said.

Departments that generate revenue are also reviewing records and making income projections for next year, Mead said.

Ransdell said the budget council will probably begin meeting in the coming weeks.

The budget will likely be based on a student enrollment of 18,391 – the enrollment from last school year, he said.

“It would be a mistake to start budgeting on anticipated growth,” Ransdell said.

Hughes said enrollment projections should be complete by the end of March.

No precise plans about the budget will be made until the end of the legislative session in April, Ransdell said.

A tuition rate proposal will also be presented in April to the Board of Regents, he said. Administrators will use the planned proposal as the basis for the budget until the meeting.

There will most likely be a 10 percent tuition increase for next year, he said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]