As Ferris continues to struggle with enrollment, the budget has continued to shrink.
Out of the 15 Michigan Public Universities, Ferris is in the majority as one of nine universities that has seen a decrease in students over the last five years.
Looking to the future, the only state predicted to have a greater drop in high school graduates than Michigan over the next five years is North Carolina. Fewer high school graduates means fewer college students and for Ferris that has resulted in over $8 million in budget cuts for the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years.
In an email to staff, Ferris President David Eisler wrote: “As a result of enrollment declines, we have significant reductions in revenue and the University general fund budget. Last year this budget was reduced by $5 million. This year the budget was reduced by an additional $3 million. After the fourth day enrollment count, the budget was reduced by an additional $442,000.”
“When enrollment declines and revenue declines, the University balances its budget through reductions. We do not pass this financial burden on to students by increasing tuition or fee costs,” Director of Budgetary Planning and Analysis Sally DePew said. “At Ferris, like other higher education institutions, between 70 and 75 percent of the budget is in people, both compensation and benefit. Our overall approach is to reduce positions through attrition—essentially not filling vacant positions.”
In total, Ferris left 33.5 positions vacant for the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, adding to the already below average 16:1 faculty to student ratio. The national average is 14:1, according to collegefactual.com.
Some students felt that building a new residence hall while simultaneously cutting the budget didn’t make sense.
“North Hall was very much needed but when thinking about doing changes, the budget is also very important,” Ferris welding engineering junior Chelsea Porter said. “I also think it’s important that students know where their tuition dollars may be going.”
With the construction of North Hall, old residence halls such as Merrill and Travis Hall are left vacant.
“I am fairly certain that the full cost was not all paid for by Ferris but the means to fundraise what we did could have been directed toward other projects that would be more meaningful to current students,” Ferris welding engineering senior Erin Lalinsky said.
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