The University of Delaware is wary of asking the state for help dealing with it’s huge COVID-19 related budget deficit.
The UD faces a massive deficit because of lower enrollment, a tuition increase freezes, and COVID-19 related expenses the university didn’t expect to encounter.
And at a state budget hearing Tuesday, UD president Dennis Assanis says the university continues to draw down on its endowment in response.
“This level of additional spending from the endowment is not sustainable over the long term," said Assanis. "And drawing significantly more from the endowment would jeopardize the long term success of the university education, research and services missions for decades to come.”
He says the university expects to lose an additional $60 million every semester COVID still plagues the state, and anticipates a deficit of up to $288 million for the 2021 fiscal year.
But recognizing the financial perils the state also faces, UD is not asking for any additional funding to cover these shortfalls, only an extra $2.25 million to support its scholarship program for low income families.
State Budget Director Mike Jackson says like last year, the Carney Administration is committed to minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on funding levels, including for higher education institutions.
“One of our goals in putting together the financial plan that the Governor’s going to submit to the General Assembly is to do no harm at a minimum to the university given the challenges that you’ve laid out,” Jackson said.
Jackson agrees with Assanis that the state should continue to support UD’s educational investments, adding it may be able to draw on state COVID relief funds to help the university manage costs associated with testing and keeping students and staff healthy and safe.
UD has already cut staff pay, reduced salaries of administration employees, and laid off many part time workers to make up for its budget shortfall.
Assanis says if the pandemic continues past next spring, that could mean more staffing cuts. He adds a reduction in state funding next year could mean the loss of almost 60 faculty positions and far less student aid.