North Central Texas College trustees are set to consider ratifying the college’s proposed 2020-2021 budget in August.
Many aspects of the projected budget are affected by a decrease in incoming funding and a drop in enrollment.
From 2019-20 to 2020-21, there is a projected decrease of $4,430,666 in total revenues.
Van Miller is vice chancellor of fiscal affairs and chief financial officer at NCTC. He said the whole 2020-21 budget is driven by the expectation of less student enrollment, which leads to less tuition revenue.
“We get about $11 million from the state,” Miller said. “We get about $3-4 million from property taxes and that’s about $15 million from a $60 million budget. We get about $30 million from students and we rely really heavily on student tuition dollars. We don’t get as much from property taxes.”
One of the areas that is seeing a decrease is the Pell grant funds, which is projected to be down $500,000.
“The Pell grant number is totally dependent on student enrollment and last year our enrollment was down, so we didn’t have as much revenue,” Miller said. “From a budget standpoint, it’s a wash because there are Pell expenses.”
The Gainesville NCTC campus is projected to have just under 1,400 students in fall 2020, with 9,843 total for all campuses for the semester. NCTC anticipates a drop of $2.5 million in in-state tuition for next year and overall a decrease of $3,975,000 in total local revenues.
“Last fall, I think as an institution, our enrollment kind of plateaued,” Miller said. “It wasn’t a big drop by any means. For the past three or four or five years, our enrollment has been hovering around 10,000 students. We may be up or down a little and last fall we were down a little. It’s kind of double whammy. We had a tuition increase and we thought with flat enrollment, it would increase revenue, but we didn’t get flat enrollment.”
Miller said he knows enrollment in the fall is going to drop and that colleges around the state are anticipating that dip.
Miller also said he expects revenues from room and board to drop as well. That’s projected to be down $130,000, according to the proposed budget, with potential for even more.
“This is one that will change before we go to the board in August because I expect that room and board to drop,” Miller said. “We’re in flux with how many students we’re going to allow in the dorms. There are questions with what the athletic seasons look like and we talked about doing just one student per room, which would cut it in half.”
Miller said they also expect less expenses as well and that the overall recommendation to departments was to make a 5% cut for the upcoming year.
“With very few exceptions, the expenses are all down,” Miller said. “We knew we had to cut expenses. Every department was told to submit their budget requests with 5% less than the previous year. It’s easy to say to cut 5%, but it’s more complicated. There are a lot of areas that are critical.”
Salaries are also projected to drop, particularly in student services, which is forecasting $932,246 less next year.
“What we have done on salaries and what we have done for the first time in many years, we’re not allowing increases,” Miller said. “The reason you see a drop in this category, either we are cutting a position or we’ve had some turnover.”
He added vacancies are being left open unless deemed critical.
Public safety expenses are also projected to by $221,799 and Miller said that is because of an experiment NCTC ran at the new Denton campus.
“There was a big increase in the previous year’s budget and when we were opening the facility in Denton, we kind of really used this robot for the parking garage,” Miller said. “There was a company that was really trying to sell this product, but it wasn’t worth it. We cut that out and we just don’t need it. A couple positions are also now showing up in other areas.”
The student success center is up in the air and is forecast to see a drop of $163,568, unless a federal grant is renewed. Miller said the college has applied to renew the competitive grant.
Miller said overall, the 2020-21 budget has been a big challenge due to the inability to truly project what the fall semester is going to bring.
“It’s easy to get a feel for that, but we’re going through an economic environment now that none of us have every experienced,” Miller said. “We don’t know how people are going to react. A lot of times community college enrollment will go up from a recession, but this is a different kind of recession and I don’t know that people are going to beating our doors down because of the pandemic.”