March 14, 2011
Dear Campus Community:
While the legislative season is only a month old, the process is moving quickly. As has been my practice, I will continue to keep you informed of how our next biennial state appropriation for FY2012 and FY2013 develops.
You probably are not surprised to hear that both the State of New Hampshire and the federal government face significant deficits. Elected officials at all levels are working to rein in spending rather than increase revenue in order to balance their budgets. In his budget address to the state on February 15, Governor John Lynch outlined his plan for meeting the challenges presented by the current fiscal environment. Budget reductions are anticipated that will reduce state appropriations to the University System of New Hampshire, as well as many federal programs that support Keene State College students.
I have been working actively with the Cabinet and Finance and Planning staff to understand our options at various funding levels. I shared the potential impacts of these cuts with the Budget and Resource Council, cost center managers and USNH Trustees over the past week. After spring break, I will meet with student leaders and the chairs and co-chairs of the PAT and OS Councils. The potential impacts are significant.
Every five percent reduction in state appropriations results in a reduction of $665,900 to the funds allocated to Keene State College for the current fiscal year, FY2011. The percentage reduction being discussed in state House committees is alarming, ranging from five percent to forty-five percent. Further reductions beyond these levels in both state and federal financial aid to students could cut deeply into the $1.2 million awarded this year to assist New Hampshire students with their educational costs at KSC. If the College made up for those reductions with institutionally funded awards, that would have the effect of costing us another ten percent over the amount spent in the current year and further add to the Collegeís FY2012 deficit.
I continue to tell legislators and our Trustees that the potential cuts and reallocations required by state and federal reductions cannot be attained without significantly changing the mission of Keene State College. State appropriations are used to subsidize the education of in-state students. Significant reductions to the state appropriationsósuch as being discussed nowówill require the college to either raise tuition or cut student financial aid. In both cases, state appropriation reductions will shift the costs of public higher education onto students and families. Already, the Trustees have authorized a total cost of attendance increase of $1090 for both in- and out-of-state students for FY2012. As you can imagine, there is resistance to making up these reductions with tuition increases. So scaling back plans for spending on new initiatives and finding ways to cut existing spending are going to be a necessary part of FY2012 budget balancing.
I will say that I have consistently told our legislators and Trustees that KSC is already extremely efficient. Benchmarking studies comparing KSCís per student expenditures against a Trustee-approved list of a dozen peer institutions show that our costs are the lowest in the group. We have also done an admirable job of redirecting spending, having made reductions of $2.2 million in annual spending that has been redirected to strategic initiatives over the past three years. Please see the Cost Savings and Efficiency overview developed by Vice President Kahn.
Nonetheless, I invite you to share cost-saving ideas with your Principal Administrator or the Business Office. We will continue to review all ideas and maintain a list of all suggestions. This is bound to be a difficult few months ahead. Please take the opportunity to discuss the importance of supporting this College and New Hampshire students. The best way of improving the tax base in the state is by maintaining a highly educated workforce. Thank you for your efforts to make Keene State College a quality institution recognized nationally as an innovative educational leader and regionally as a critical driver of economic development.
Helen F. Giles-Gee
Keene State has set up this page to share information about the financial challenges facing the College and to ask for ideas and input from the whole campus community. More resources, documents, and interactive features will be posted as the situation develops, so please check back.