K-State announced a $12 million cut to the university budget on Wednesday.
Cindy Bontrager, vice president for administration and finance, announced the university needed to make a 4.5 percent one-time cut to the university’s administration and academic budget because the projected tuition revenue for the school year was less than expected.
K-State’s enrollment is down nearly 2,000 students since hitting an all-time high in 2014. This year’s fall enrollment of 22,796 is the lowest at K-State since 2002.
Bontrager said the university is working to address falling enrollment, noting the university is hiring a strategic enrollment management consultant. She also said the university is attempting to attract more out-of-state students and more in-state high school graduates and college transfers.
The money will come from administrative and academic units funded through the main campus general use budget, which is a little more than a third of K-State overall $900 million budget. The general use budget is funded with tuition money and state aid.
“This year, incoming graduate students increased and we will do everything we can to make progress,” she said.
The announcement comes at the same time the Kansas Board of Regents is visiting the K-State campus. Dennis Mullin, the vice chairman of the Regents who lives in Manhattan, said Tuesday he was aware of the university’s impending budget cuts.
He said many have pointed to the drop in enrollment this year as well as tuition increases, but he noted there are many causes for why the university’s enrollment has fallen.
“People have to make the realization now that economy is strengthening and there is opportunity out there that wasn’t out there a couple of years ago,” he said. “When you look at the makeup of the K-State student body, you certainly see a more work oriented student body than you see in some of our institutions.”
He noted the university’s enrollment increased in the past during downturns in the economy.
“The advantage we had of the downturn in the recession was we had some very large graduating classes too that we aren’t replacing the same size classes with freshmen,” he said. “It’s hard to replace the same numbers that are graduating.”
Mullin said there isn’t one specific area the university could focus to address the issue, but he said the Regents are attempting to attract more first-generation college students in Kansas.
“I think there are some real important things we can do, and that’s what the Regents are trying to focus on,” he said. “It’s a huge hurdle we have to overcome, but we have to tackle it.”
He said he agrees the university needs to focus more on enrolling out-of-state students.
“We shouldn’t be fishing with poles, we should be fishing with nets,” he said.