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Recap: Board of Trustees Finance and Audit Committee May Meeting

UNC's Board of Trustees Finance and Audit Committee met last week to discuss the fiscal year 2020-21 third quarter financial report and preview the fiscal year 2021-22 budget.

—Written by Deanna Herbert 

The University of Northern Colorado’s Board of Trustees Finance and Audit Committee met on Friday, May 7, and discussed the fiscal year 2020-21 third quarter (Q3) financial report, fiscal year 2021-22 budget preview and enrollment update and profit and loss report from the Department of Housing and Residential Education. 

Fiscal Year 2020-21(FY21) Third Quarter Financial Report 

The initial financial outlook for the FY21 budget projected the use of $6 million of operating reserves, in addition to implemented cost-savings initiatives of $17.3 million, in order to offset the shortfall in revenues. The previous forecast, at the end of Q2, projected the use of only $2.6 million of reserves with further reductions in projected expenses. This forecast, including actual results through Q3, has been updated to reflect the most recent assumptions and forecasts an inflow of $3.3 million, an improvement of $5.9 million. 

In December, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) was signed into law and additional funding was allocated for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II). The CRRSAA HEERF II funding to UNC was $12.6 million, with $3.8 million provided directly to students, and the remaining $8.8 million to the institution. The university has mapped out the planned usage of the additional funding in Q3 with $3.1 million being realized as revenue and spent in FY21 and the remaining $5.7 million to be allocated to FY22. 

Forecasted expenditures have been reduced substantially in the Q3 update for a total reduction of $6.2 million from the budget. The extended decrease in campus activity, mix of in-person and remote services, and travel restrictions for most of the fiscal year have all contributed to the additional expense savings. Including additional adjustments anticipated for Balance Sheet items, the net impact of year-to-date changes presents a total improvement of $9.3 million compared to budget for a projected operating surplus of $3.3 million.  

The University’s cash position is projected to be at $55.3 million at fiscal year-end, $12.8 million more than the FY19 ending cash position of $42.5 million. The cash position is continuing to improve as a result of the institution’s ongoing commitment to strengthening the budget prior to, and in spite of, the impacts of the pandemic and that work must continue in order to improve UNC’s liquidity and ensure financial stability as we look to the future. 

Fiscal Year 2021-22 (FY22) Budget Preview 

Discussion regarding the FY22 budget preview started with an overview of anticipated fall enrollment. While enrollment of new first‐time and new transfer students is expected to increase for Fall 2021, overall enrollment is projected to be lower by 4% due to decreases in new student cohorts in both Fall 2019 and Fall 2020. This creates financial pressure on future years, with undergraduate enrollment not expected to return to Fall 2020 levels until Fall 2025. For purposes of the preliminary FY22 budget assumptions, the Fall 2021 graduate enrollment has been projected to be equal to Fall 2020 levels. 

Although the pandemic introduced $28 million in financial pressure for FY21 ($23 million in revenue reductions and $5 million in increased expenses), UNC responded with a campus‐wide effort that was successful in bridging that gap. Additionally, the HEERF II federal stimulus funding was also a factor in FY21 in supporting critical spending and infrastructure needs. The final allocation of HEERF funding, in the amount of $22 million, is expected this month with $11 million going to students and $11 million to the institution. Because the university is awaiting federal guidance regarding how this HEERF III money can be used, it is not yet included in the FY22 budget. 

The following increases in tuition and fee rates are included in the FY22 budget: 

  • 7% increase in Undergraduate Tuition  
  • 3% increase in Graduate Tuition  
  • 3% increase in Student Fees 
  • 4% increase in Room & Board rates  
  • 7% increase in Differential Tuition for PVA programs 

These changes will result in an increase in the total cost of attendance for undergraduates (including tuition, fees, and room & board with a Tier-3 room and a 14-meal plan) of approximately $1,072 or 4.9% compared to FY21. Despite the increases, UNC will remain the most affordable research university, and one of the most affordable public universities, in Colorado. Additionally, about 30% of UNC students have historically had no net tuition and fee charges following the application of financial aid from federal, state, and institutional sources. 

A draft of the preliminary FY22 budget is available in the Fiscal Year 2021‐22 Budget Preview.  

Residence Hall Profit and Loss 

Vice President for Student Affairs, Katrina Rodriguez, Ph.D., gave an overview of profit and loss review by residence hall for the Department of Housing & Residential Education (HRE). HRE is the campus home for up to 3,500 students in traditional residence halls, suites, houses, and apartments. The analysis focused on revenue and expenses from FY19, the most recent pre-COVID year. 

Most of the revenue from Housing & Residential Education comes from student room charges. Net revenues from HRE and Dining Services also provide funding support for other areas of campus operations through administrative overhead, and cost allocations for custodial, grounds, maintenance, police and IT services.  

Most of the schools in the state have maintained an average of a 3% increase in room and board each year and similar increases are anticipated again for FY22. Because UNC’s prices have remained flat in recent years, there is now a significant gap in room and board prices between UNC, CSU, and CU, for example. The information we have on increases in operating costs, our pricing in comparison to our competitors, and the pricing elasticity study completed in FY19 have informed the decision to recommend a 4% increase for FY22. 

Additional information and data are available in the profit and loss executive summary. 

Development of the FY22 budget will be finalized in the next few weeks and a recommendation, with full supporting and supplemental information, presented for approval at the June 11 Board of Trustees meeting.    

View the Board of Trustees Finance and Audit Committee’s May 7 meeting documents and recording of the meeting. 

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