2020-21 HSU Budget Finalized

September 15, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

I continue to be inspired by the heart and commitment I have seen over the past several months from our campus community as we navigate the pandemic and our financial challenges, and I am confident in our collective ability to achieve a sustainable path forward.

The 2020-21 Budget has been finalized and detailed information about the University’s Operating Fund and also all budgeted funds is available on the Budget website on OpenBook (HSU’s public facing budget dashboards).

HSU’s budget situation continues to be challenging, although significant progress is being made, and looking ahead there are reasons for both caution and optimism on the horizon. 

Through a combination of proactive reduction planning over the past few cycles and the short-term curtailing of spending when the pandemic first hit last spring, HSU has designated balances and reserves available to partially bridge budget shortfalls while multi-year solutions are being developed to balance HSU’s budget over the next two years.

In addition, enrollment is showing positive signs and incoming transfer student numbers are the highest they have been since 2017. It should be noted however, that even with enrollment declines trending lower than anticipated, it will likely take several years for total enrollment to grow and refined multi-year enrollment projections following the fall census will serve as an important planning resource in the coming year.

At the same time, the state projects significant budget deficits over the next few years, which may result in additional reductions in state funding to HSU. In addition, HSU is significantly under enrolled, currently close to 30% below our funded enrollment level of 7,603 annual resident full-time equivalent student (FTES), and the California State University system is signaling they will begin recalibrating enrollment targets next year which will further reduce state funding to HSU. These variables are being monitored closely and future year budget projections will continue to be refined as new information becomes available.

HSU’s 2020-21 Operating Fund Budget, prior to spending reductions, reflected a shortfall of $16.3 million this year, and is still estimated to grow to a $20 million gap by 2021-22 as previously anticipated. For the 2020-21 budget, we have reduced ongoing spending by $7.3 million, leaving a remaining shortfall of $9 million. The remaining $9 million will be covered through a combination of one-time measures in the current year: $5.4 million from 2019-20 roll forward (reserves), $1.8 million in additional tuition revenue in light of our enrollment looking better than anticipated in the budget (see note in the Revenue Budget section for additional detail), and $1.8 million in divisional spending adjustments. Even with the planned use of one-time funding, we were able to preserve our $6.3 million Operating Reserve (Rainy Day Fund), an important safety net as we continue to develop strategies to address the full $20 million shortfall by 2021-22. Significant progress is already underway to identify ongoing reductions, including such strategies as the Early Exit Program, which had 60 participants.

It is worth noting that in light of our current financial circumstances, many other entities across the campus, such as Housing, Parking and Student Health & Wellbeing Services, are also leveraging a combination of spending reductions and one-time reserves to maintain operations and services to students this year. In OpenBook, we have established a new dashboard highlighting Budgeted Surpluses and Deficits by Entity to bring greater visibility to the financial position of each of our various budgeted activities on campus. In general, a surplus reflects an expectation of adding to reserves in the coming year, while a deficit reflects a planned use of reserves to cover the shortfall.

2020-21 Operating Fund Revenue Budget

HSU’s 2020-21 Operating Fund Revenue Budget is $128.7 million, reflecting a decrease of $11.6 million from the prior year due to decreased enrollment and reduced funding from the state. In the final CSU Budget Memo, HSU’s state appropriation was reduced by $5.5 million (HSU’s share of the state’s 7.5% reduction to the CSU.)  Similarly, tuition revenue declined by $6.1 million based on an estimated 20% enrollment decline. The University Revenue snapshot from OpenBook reflects a high-level breakdown of HSU’s Operating Fund revenue sources, with state appropriations comprising the largest funding source at 66% of the budget. Note: Fall enrollment is currently looking significantly better than anticipated at closer to 7.5% down; however, we are maintaining the -20% budgeted level in our ongoing planning given how much uncertainty there is this year. That being said, since finalizing the budget, the decision has been made to pledge an additional $1.8 million in tuition revenue beyond our budgeted level to help address the remaining budget shortfall in the current year in light of our improved enrollment situation.

2020-21 Operating Fund Expenditure Budget

HSU’s 2020-21 Operating Fund Expenditure Budget is $137.7 million, having successfully reduced ongoing spending by $7.3 million so far. The University Spending snapshot from OpenBook reflects a high-level breakdown of HSU’s Operating Fund spending by type of activity. The majority of HSU’s budget continues to be salary and benefit costs at over $109 million combined, 79% of the budget. Financial Aid is the next highest budgeted cost at $12.7 million, 9% of the budget. All other budgeted activities, such as utilities, insurance, equipment, information technology costs, and miscellaneous operating expenses comprise the remaining 12% of the budget.

This OpenBook dashboard provides several different views of the expenditure budget, including by type of spending (shown here), by organizational structure, and by FIRMS (NACUBO) classification.

I encourage everyone to check out the OpenBook dashboards to learn more about our budget. For reference, this OpenBook Overview document provides an overview of OpenBook and available views by dashboard.

Thank you again, for your continuing efforts to preserve the long-term financial health of Humboldt State. I remain committed to keeping you informed about HSU’s budget as new information becomes available.


Amber Blakeslee
University Budget Director

URPC Website
2020-21 Budget Update Presentation to URPC and University Senate

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