Low enrollment creates $4.7 million budget deficit


Bruce A. Fox/Instructional Resources

Lower enrollment this semester has caused a budget deficit, resulting in a hiring freeze across the college.

SUNY Buffalo State is taking a hit this year with its low enrollment creating a $4.7 million budget deficit.

Buffalo State has 800 fewer students than last fall, despite being the third largest freshman class the college has seen in 25 years.

In a letter to the faculty and staff of the college, President Katherine Conway-Turner said the breakdown of the budget included $3.3 million deficit in structural costs with an additional $1.4 being spent on “one-time unfunded costs for negotiated payments.”

The deficit has also caused a hiring-freeze across the college, which will continue for the rest of the semester, and then be reevaluated.

However, crucial positions for hire and those needed to operate the school are still being filled by the college.

“Our number one priority is student safety,” said Melanie Perrault, provost of academic affairs. “Our hiring is slowed down and more intentional.”

Perrault blames the low enrollment on a number of reasons. According to Perrault, recruitment is not hitting the required marks, the demographics in Western New York are changing, and there has been a drop in high school graduates in the area. The number of graduates and upperclassmen returning is also decreasing.

The college has also seen a decrease in the amount of transfer students they receive from local colleges, such as Erie Community College.

Buffalo State used to see thousands of students from ECC each year, but that’s not the case anymore. ECC has also suffered from their fifth straight year of declining enrollment, by more than six percent.

However, Buffalo State does have a plan to improve enrollment.

“We’re going to be very proactive and reach out to students,” Perrault said in an interview with WKBW. “[We’ll] really find out what is it, what prevented you from coming back…Is it purchasing books…do you need $500 to fix your car? We can help you with that.”

Aside from tuition and the cost of books causing a problem for college students, there are plans to keep students with a new academic center in Butler Library.

“It’ll be a one-stop shop for all academic support,” Perrault said. “Students can find help for all aspects of college there.

In addition, the college plans to implement mandatory advising for all students every semester. Perrault stated that college completion is a high priority right now overall.

Despite the large amount of students leaving the college, not all have the same viewpoints.

Senior speech-language-pathology majors Jessica Blous and Isabel Huber started at Buffalo State as freshmen and never planned on switching schools.

“The cost here is great compared to some other schools in Buffalo,” Blous said. “I was never thinking of going outside of Buffalo, because it had the major I wanted.”

Huber has a similar story; Buffalo State offered the program she wanted at an affordable price.

“I’m really happy here and there’s great professors,” Huber said.

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