February 17, 2009

Ithaca College Plans to Increase Tuition, Freeze Select Salaries and Cut Budget

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The University’s financial strains and ensuing budget cuts have been familiar topics in recent headlines. In the midst of Cornell’s financial crisis, neighboring Ithaca College is also making significant adjustments in response to economic tensions.
Ithaca College’s Board of Trustees approved a 2009-2010 budget last Thursday that took the college’s current fiscal concerns into consideration, addressing revenue shortfalls for next year due to substantial endowment losses and lower undergraduate enrollment.
According to a statement from Ithaca College President Thomas Rochon, the college will see a reduction of 240 students in next year’s total undergraduate population, resulting in a $5 million loss in tuition profits.
The budget plan included specific measures to help address these losses. According to Rochon, the college’s priorities in drafting the new budget were to decrease spending while maintaining affordability. The plan limits employment reductions by as much as possible, in an effort to avoid “across the board” cuts.
The plan also minimizes tuition increases and maximizes financial aid programs in order to temper fiscal strains on students.
Ithaca College’s tuition will rise 4.75 percent — the lowest increase in eight years — bringing the total cost of attendance to $44,270. The Sun reported in January that Cornell’s tuition will increase by four percent for endowed colleges.
$68 million of Ithaca College’s 2009-2010 budget will go to financial aid, the most the college has ever awarded in its 117 years of history.
The college also plans to reduce spending by four percent, requiring the vice presidents of each department to determine which programs or jobs to eliminate. Salaries will freeze for 2009-2010, except for increases required to recognize promotions.
Even with these changes, Ithaca College expects to see a $2.5 million deficit next year. The college has not acquired a spending deficit since the 1950s, and surpluses accumulated over the past few years will fill the gap, according to the college’s press release.
Rochon pledged in his statement to the Ithaca College community that the administration would be “as transparent as possible in communicating plans for the near and long-term future.”
Cornell’s response to economic concerns also focuses on affordability. The University will continue to “remain focused on the need to attract and retain the best and brightest students, faculty and staff,” stated President Skorton in a statement in October. Three months later, Skorton announced that Cornell’s hiring freeze and construction pause would be extended until the end of June 2009.
Skorton’s plan also outlined the University’s new financial aid program, eliminating need-based loans for students from families who earn under $75,000.