Budget For 2014-15 Being Discussed

Photo by Robin Weinstein.


Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

Though the state’s final budget for the next fiscal year has yet to be finalized, SUNY New Paltz administrators are already in the process of planning for the 2014-15 budget year.

At the near-end of November, a budget update written by Vice President for Administration and Finance, Michele Halstead, was posted on newpaltz.edu. In the update, Halstead laid out what the school is expecting in terms of future state funding.

According to the update, Halstead has met with the school’s Budget Goals and Plans committee and that the budget process will be “tweaked” slightly this year.

“At this time, we are asking only for the requests for recurring funding,” Halstead said.  “The one-time budget process will begin in the spring to better align with our ability to forecast reserve balances.”

The budget process for SUNY begins in early November, when SUNY System Administration begins to outline what they are hoping to get from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. Then Cuomo will release his executive budget in January, where he will list how much money he would want to give to SUNY as a whole.

Halstead said that from there, there will be conversations lobbying for different areas to get more funding and that the official amount of money SUNY will recieve, “in a perfect world” will be made known on April 1 of 2014.

Once SUNY is given the amount of money they’ll receive for the year, Halstead said they will “chop up” that amount of money for each of the schools within the system in time for the start of SUNY’s fiscal year, which is on July 1.

She said she’ll expect New Paltz to be given $16 million by SUNY, a similar amount to what the school recieved last year. Halstead hopes that in addition to that, SUNY New Paltz will recieve $1.4 million that is needed for salary increases, but she said it is not likely.

“SUNY is asking for increases in state funding for the salaries, and if they got that it would be a wonderful thing for the campus,” Halstead said. “But it is very, very pessimistic right now.”

If no new money is given to SUNY for increases in salary, students’ tuition money will likely be raised to help pay for those salary increases.

Halstead said tuition revenue accounts for 75 percent of the budget, and that enrollment numbers have been on the decline these past couple of years.

SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said there is currently a decline in graduate school enrollment, while undergraduate admissions targets were met for the fall 2013 semester. Christian also said a reason why enrollment numbers were down was because of the amount of time it takes for students to graduate.

“Something that has happened is we’re seeing our graduation increases grow,” Christian said. “We’re moving students to the pipeline more quickly and more students graduate in four and five years, as opposed to five and six years. A decline in enrollment is related to an increase in graduation.”

Christian also said a tuition increase for next year would only be $300 at the maximum, as the school is still in the midst of its five-year rational tuition policy.

If the enrollment numbers hold, Halstead said the school will have more money to invest in research initiatives. If the enrollment number continues to decline, she said the school will not have those additional funds.

While a large amount of deficit in the budget could potentially happen, Halstead said this is unlikely. She also said if the budget “stays flat” it will not have a major impact on students.

“If our budget flat-lines, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Halstead said. “We have very healthy reserves, and you can find efficiencies in other areas.”