Unfulfilled projections cause $11M shortfall in NAU’s budget

Posted at 3:20 PM, Feb 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-03 17:20:44-05

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.  — Northern Arizona University missed its target enrollment by at least 800 tuition-paying students this year, resulting in $10 million in lost tuition and fees that have already been allocated.

School officials say student tuition and fees, which comprise 40 percent of NAU’s revenue, suffered this year due to a drop in both enrollment and retention, reported the Arizona Daily Sun.

The newspaper reports that departments across the university must return $11 million in funds before June to avoid ending the fiscal year with a deficit.

Bjorn Flugstad, vice president for the university budget office, said in a statement that he and members of the executive team have been visiting departments “to determine what non-personnel monies could be spared, what plans and programs we can hold off on and what funds are not yet encumbered.”

NAU spokesperson Kim Ott said the budget projection was made in spring 2018 based on anticipated revenues and expenditures and must now be upheld within all areas of the university.

“Based upon projections reported to the Arizona Board of Regents in November, the university must operate within a lower level of resources available for this fiscal year,” she told the Daily Sun. “This year, NAU will adjust to the reduced revenue, which amounts to approximately 1.5 percent of NAU’s overall $627 million budget.”

News of the costly miscalculation has spread since it was announced to department leads at the end of the fall 2018 semester.

It left many faculty members and employees fearful of losing their jobs.

But deans of various colleges have assured their teams that although returning these funds is not optional, the goal is to maintain all current employees.