Board of Regents Jan. 26

Northwest Board of Regent Chair John Moore, Regent Debbie Roach and Regent Mel Tjeerdsma clap after a recognition from Mary Collins. The Regents held its first meeting of the year following a morning workshop in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom Jan. 26. 

The preliminary Fiscal Year 2024 budget was presented at the Jan. 26 Board of Regents Workshop, and it shows another increase in tuition but a decrease in board prices due to a new contract for the dining hall. 

Vice President of Finance and Administration Stacy Carrick put forward the numbers during the workshop, starting with a 7.1% increase in tuition for undergraduate resident students and a 6.6% increase for undergraduate non-resident students.

Designated University fees and course fees were shown to go up by 7.1%. She said the University would see a 3.2% net increase in revenue from the raise due to the mix of enrollment. 

“So as that on ground, online, undergrad, grad, resident, non-resident mix changes, that changes what we collect and our scholarships,” Carrick said. “When we raise our rates … they on average don’t pay that full rate increase because of scholarships.” 

When it comes to room costs, it was presented to go up 10.5% due to the consumer price index and the rise in costs of utilities and the shelter and rental rate for the area. Board costs are looking to go down by 17.2% in alignment with the new dining contract. Carrick said there are three different dining plans, and they are basing numbers around the middle plan that is predicted to be the most popular. 

With these changes, undergraduate resident students would see an increase of around $459, and undergraduate non-resident students would see a net increase of $527. 

Carrick said Northwest has been told that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is going to increase state appropriations by 7%, allowing a 3.8% net for $1.3 million. Northwest was awarded with a one-time $1 million appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget to cover the cost of MOSERS, the state retirement system, which is not expected to be appropriated again. Without this, there will be a $1 million gap that will need to be offset. 

This preliminary budget also includes a 4% cost-of-living-adjustment for Northwest employees. Healthcare coverage and benefits are also expected to increase in the next fiscal year. 

Carrick said a lot of these numbers tie back to enrollment. Northwest’s goal for enrollment for the FY 2024 budget is 8,850, but is only budgeting for 95% of that. Carrick said the University is down in continuing students, and the last of the large classes of students is graduating this May. 

“Strategic enrollment obviously is a top priority to help us balance the budget,” Carrick said. “I mean, volume is what brings your revenue in. We are seeing that the market is highly-competitive with declining student demographics.” 

Carrick said the University of Missouri has changed to lower admission standards, allowing students who may not have been able to get in before to be admitted. She said this is happening at many universities, and is now taking away students from Northwest. Continuing students at Northwest is projected to go down, causing a decrease in budget for coming years. 

“We’re losing a lot of our on-ground students because of the demographics,” Carrick said. “We’re just not able to recruit. … The pool is smaller than it has been in the past.” 

When it comes to the Auxiliary budget, Carrick said a lot of it depends on the freshman who live on campus. With a consistent decrease in freshman enrollment, there is a decrease in the budget. Carrick said Northwest is banking on freshman enrollment being up to raise revenue in auxiliary. 

“This is an area where I’ve shared with you before, fortunately we have some funds classified as lost revenues through COVID, through the (American Rescue Plan Act) program, that once those came in we set those aside and put them in unrestricted in anticipation of needing to use those to help us through the volatility of down enrollments.” 

Carrick said though they are trying to bridge the gap in the budgets, she does anticipate needing to dip into the unrestricted funds over the next five years depending on enrollment. 

Carrick stressed these numbers are not final, as her team and other offices are early in the process and are still working to have a more finalized budget in the coming months. 

“You will see some gaps,” she said. “We do not have a balanced budget at this point in the process, that is normal. Thankfully the gap is not as big as it has been in some years, but obviously it’s always a challenge when there’s a gap.” 

The current gap for the Education and General budget is $900,000 and the gap for the Auxiliary budget is $1.3 million. Another presentation of the budget will come to the Board of Regents for approval in March.

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