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Retirees Association

DDN: Wright State summer tuition revenue dip is latest blow to budget realignment

Excerpt from the Dayton Daily News

Wright State University’s summer tuition revenue is down by around $1 million this year, possibly sinking one of the school’s last best hopes at avoiding state fiscal watch.

Summer classes started at Wright State on May 7 and although about two-thirds of tuition from those classes will be applied to this year’s budget, it was not what administrators hoped for, said chief business officer Walt Branson.

The university started slashing more than $30.8 million from the school’s budget nearly a year ago to keep it falling below a state-required ratio for its reserves funds. The cuts were made in an attempt to begin correcting years of overspending at Wright State that decreased reserve funds from $162 million in 2012 to a projected $31 million in 2017.

In an attempt to better track summer revenue this year, Wright State kicked students out of classes before they started if students had not paid their bill instead of three weeks into the summer session. The change in policy, Branson said, allowed WSU to see the revenue loss right away instead of at the end of the month.

“This gives us an opportunity to react much quicker,” Branson said. “Otherwise, we’d be sitting here until the end of May and crossing our fingers.”

The state measures every public college’s fiscal health with something called a “Senate Bill 6 score,” an annual rating of 0 to 5. Any school that falls below a 1.75 two years in a row is put on notice. Wright State projected its score last year was a .8, meaning one more year below a 1.75 would put the school on fiscal watch.

Under fiscal watch status, WSU trustees and administration would have to adopt a financial recovery plan with an eye toward ending the status of fiscal watch within three years, according to state law. They would be required to produce forecasts and plans for getting the school’s finances back on track, and if the administration did not do this the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education could appoint someone to make those decisions for the university.

The summer revenue dip is just the latest development in Wright State’s ongoing budget crisis.