SC State Projects Shortfalls in the Millions

5:47 PM, Feb 3, 2014   |    comments
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Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) -- South Carolina State University has reported it expects shortfalls that total in the millions this year.

SC State President Thomas Elzey outlined the problem in a letter to the state's Budget and Control Board.  In it, Elzey says the university has projected a $4.4 million operating deficit and a $13 million cash shortfall.

Elzey's letter blamed falling enrollment numbers for the university expectation of needing more money to close out the 2013-2014 fiscal year in the black. His letter outlined the school's efforts to reduce its shortfalls.

According to the letter, SC State first projected an enrollment of 3,500 students before the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. By July 13, that projection had fallen to 3,000. The letter says that changed amounted to an initial deficit of $15 million.

"The University acted immediately to address the looming enrollment shortfall," wrote Elzey.

He says the school reviewed its enrollment and recruitment practices, hired more staff to recruit in and outside the state, and sought additional funding from the University's Foundation and Alumni Association to help student who would not have enrolled due to their financial considerations.

The school called its efforts a "success," enrolling 3,400 students for the Fall 2013 semester and cutting the estimated deficit from $15 million to $9 million.

Elzey explains that the school also increased tuition and fees, cut approximately 90 positions, put off filling some positions, increased fundraising and unrestricted gifts, and moved $500,000 in deferred maintenance costs to the Federal Title III Program. He says those steps reduced the expected deficit from $9 million to $4.4 million.

"Longstanding structural factors contributing to the expected current fiscal year shortfall remain," wrote Elzey. "Expenditures for University operations are based upon student enrollment levels from 5 years ago, a time in which the number of enrolled students exceeded 4,800."

He says other factors like the school debt level, fewer dollars from the state, and changes to qualifications for federal loans and grants, have also contributed to the school's struggles.

"We are diligently at work on preparing the University's Strategic Management Plan that will further address the University's plan to operate within its existing financial resources in the years to come," wrote Elzey.

Our calls to South Carolina State University were not returned.
The Budget and Control Board has requested a plan from the school that will outline its plan to reduce or resolve the expected shortfall.

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