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Cleveland State, Kent State Making Cuts After Big COVID-19 Financial Hit

Whether prospective college students are choosing to take a gap year because of uncertainty over how classes will be held or if families are facing financial difficulties, administrators can’t say, but Kent State University is expecting a 20 percent reduction in student attendance this fall, according to spokesman Eric Mansfield.

“Our enrollment last fall was around 37,000 students,” Mansfield said. “So if you drop it 20 percent this year, you're talking more than 7,000 students, fewer in the fall. That's a significant drop, which means this is a significant drop in the income that we're able to collect with tuition.” 

With that dramatic reduction in the student population, Kent State is expecting a $32 million loss in funding from the state, Mansfield said.

“We also refunded $19 million in room, meal plans and parking,” Mansfield said. “When our students were sent home for remote learning for the final six weeks of the spring semester. So, when all those things add up, our best estimate is $110 million overall.” 

Kent State’s board of trustees on Wednesday approved a series of actions in response to the anticipated budget shortfall.

The measures include salary adjustments for those who are not represented by the faculty unions, ranging from pay decreases of anywhere from 2 to 10 percent – including President Todd Diacon, who will take a 12.5 percent salary reduction, according to Mansfield.

“The second step was to offer a voluntary separation package,” Mansfield said, “So about 3,000 employees will be eligible to consider that. And the third measure was working with our faculty union for both our tenure track and our non-tenure track to forgo raises for the coming year.”

Cleveland State University has not yet released exact details about how it will respond to budget shortfall.

CSU shared a letter from University President Harlan Sands to staff which said a “CSU 2.0” must reduce university costs and said included a range of possible actions, including:

  • reducing administrative, organizational and operational costs;
  • realigning academic colleges and schools, as well as athletic programs;
  • instituting hiring freezes, furloughs, pay reductions or selective layoffs;
  • examining course offerings and class schedules to increase efficiency; and
  • strictly limiting discretionary expenses, such as travel.

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