Missouri State President Smart Discusses Potential Budget Shortfall

Missouri State President Clif Smart informed the public in his “Clif’s Notes” website postings about a budget shortfall that Missouri State is anticipating in the 2021 budget.

Smart informed readers that the university had to budget for $4.6 million in decreased revenue because of a decline in credit hours, and the overall anticipated shortfall could be as high as $7 million.

Smart told OI that while $7 million is a significant adjustment to the budget, the actual shortfall may end up being smaller than the currently projected amount.

“The decline could be significant but it is really too early to tell,” Smart told OI. “We had projected to be down about 800 undergraduate students this fall as a result of a huge graduating class but there are signs we are making up ground among all classes of students: first time new in college, transfers and graduate students.  We should know more by May 1.”

Smart in his posting attributed the decline in part to “state and national demographic shifts”, which he explained to OI is related to graduation rates.

“Fewer people are graduating from high school in Missouri and fewer of those are going to college,” Smart told OI.  “That is true in most Midwestern states as well.” 

Smart noted the University is working in a number of ways to try and increase enrollment for the fall semester to offset the anticipated decline in undergraduate students.

“In the short term we have updated our website, instituted new/different marketing strategies, changed our scholarship package, waived our admission fee, created a virtual tour etc,” Smart told OI.  “In the long term we may look to revamp certain academic programs to more closely align with careers and create new micro-credentials sought after by employers. We also look to expand student services like advising to improve retention and graduation rates.  We are creating a strategic enrollment management plan which will contain these and other ideas.”

Smart notes that the MSU Board of Governors was able to hold tuition for in-state undergraduate students to 2.87%, lower than other increases at Missouri’s public universities, because of an appropriations increase last year. That will allow flexibility for the Board and President Smart as they look at increased tuition for the coming year.

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