YSU enrollment hits record low, federal COVID relief keeps budget in the black for now
Predictions that enrollment would fall at Youngstown State University have become a reality as the University is reporting all-time low student numbers this Fall.
A letter to the campus community from the Office of Academic Affairs and Office of Finance & Business Operations stated that full-time equivalent student enrollment levels are 7.3% lower than last year.
With 11,298 students, current enrollment levels currently stand at 9,031 full-time equivalents, according to the letter.
Noting that the decline is due to regional demographic challenges facing northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania, the University’s budget for the current fiscal year 2022 is based, in part, on the assumption that enrollment would decline again this year.
YSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Brien Smith acknowledged the anticipated decline last May in a letter stating that "the number of high school graduates is trending downward for the foreseeable future, and institutions of higher education can expect lower enrollments as a result."
University officials report that revenues from tuition and fees this fall semester are $2.6 million lower than last fall, and they estimate that over the course of the entire 2021-22 fiscal year, revenue from tuition and fees will decline by $5.6 million.
“At the same time, inflationary pressure continues to drive up University spending for everything from employee salaries and benefits to technology infrastructure and campus maintenance,” according to the most recent letter.
What’s keeping the University solvent is a one-time influx of $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding, say YSU officials.
The letter warns that the federal relief is only temporary and can’t be counted upon beyond this fiscal year.
“In other words, the University is potentially facing a structural budget deficit in excess of $10 million,” according to the letter.
The letter closes with a plea for the campus community to work together to respond to difficulties while being guided by YSU’s Plan for Strategic Actions to Take Charge of Our Future.
The University has been studying was to keep YSU attractive to students, while reviewing the cost-effectiveness of various programs and identifying which ones need additional investment and where costs can be cut.
The faculty union has let it be known that they are keeping a close watch on any possible cuts, saying that all divisions of the University should be subject to scrutiny.