Topeka, Kan. – Washburn University’s Board of Regents approved the university’s budget for the coming fiscal year at their meeting this afternoon. The $106.7 million budget makes a number of adjustments due to the pandemic including reductions in expenses and a modest tuition increase.
The new budget assumes a reduction in undergraduate enrollments of 15 percent in though enrollments are still underway. Final numbers on enrollment won’t be known until classes start in August. The anticipated decline in enrollment will reduce revenue by $3.8 million. In addition to the enrollment decline, the new budget assumes decreases in state appropriations and in sales tax revenue for an overall budget impact of $8 million.
As a result, Washburn eliminated 10 vacant faculty positions has frozen another 46 vacant faculty and staff positions. Those savings -- along with elimination of a pool of uncommitted funds for wages --reduced salary and benefit costs by $4.7 million. In addition, the new budget reduces travel budgets and includes reductions in health insurance costs and other operating costs across the university by another $2.75 million.
The balance of the budget is funded with a 2.96 percent tuition increase which raises the regular in-state tuition rate from $300 per credit hour to $309. That would amount to an increase of $135 per semester for an undergraduate student in regular university classes taking a full load of 15 credits per semester.
Washburn Tech will also see a tuition increase from $163 per credit hour to $170. However, that change will only affect post-secondary students who represent about half of the student poplulation on that campus.
“We worked hard to keep our cost affordable while, at the same time, avoiding any layoffs or furloughs,” said Jerry Farley, president of Washburn. “And, we avoided adding any fees beyond the single $65 activity fee which is passed on to the student government.”
Farley also noted that the new budget avoids using any university reserves to balance the budget. The reserves, he said, protect the university and help fund long-term projects like a new law school building.
“We are also very careful with our use of debt,” he said. “We use bond issues very strategically and conservatively for long-term projects which enhance the quality quality university.”
In fact, Farley noted, Washburn’s long-term debt is less than a third of the debt held by peer institutions of the same size.
“This has been a difficult few months and we still have a number of challenges facing us through the coming year,” he said. “But, by budgeting conservatively we are able to keep our budget balanced and still provide an outstanding education.”
Washburn University previously announced that it intends to return to face-to-face classes in the fall semester but intends to switch to distance learning after the Thanksgiving break. That will move “Success Week” which is designed to review material from the semester and finals to a remote environment before classes end in early December.