Enrollment decline causes budget deficit for Student Services fee

0
201

The Student Services fee faces a budget deficit of approximately $2 million for fiscal year 2022, resulting in various callbacks for organizations that benefit from the fee, Max Harman, senior in biochemistry and global food systems leadership and Student Services Fee Committee chair, said.

According to the Student Governing Association website, the Student Services fee — previously known as the Campus Privilege fee — is a campus-wide fee set by the Kansas Board of Regents.

The fee supports non-instructional student service activities such as Lafene Health Center, the K-State Student Union, Counseling and Psychological Services and others.

A decline in enrollment caused the deficit, prompting the Student Services Fee Committee Chair, Speaker of the Student Senate, and Student Body President to enact the insufficient funds’ process. The committee gave all fee-funded entities 10 business days to submit an impact statement describing the implications of various decreases in their budget.

After vetting the impact statements, Harman said the committee would send budget recommendations to the Student Services Fee Committee for further review.

“Insufficient funds is definitely not normal,” Harman said. “We really hope to never have to use it except in emergency scenarios like we’re in, and [that] was accelerated because of [COVID-19] and enrollment decline.”

Harman said the callback process mirrors the university’s system for other departments on campus.

“The goal of the insufficient funds’ process is to look at the nuances and to try and minimize the hard impacts of these cuts,” Harman said. “Using the information that the entities give us, we try and make decisions of where we can make cuts without impacting, too significantly, the student experience.”

Harman said KBOR dictated the Student Services fee cannot go up, making budget cuts necessary.

“At the end of the day, students are paying less, and that’s a good thing,” Harman said. “But because of that, you’re not able to use that tool to cover those deficits.”

However, Harman said the committee has other tools, such as a bond surplus account set aside for unusual circumstances to help prevent the deficit from being covered entirely by callbacks.

“We’re trying to minimize the amount of harm that’s caused to entities, especially services facing students and the student experience on campus,” Harman said.

Harman said the impact of the callbacks on students is unclear, but that is why they are gathering statements.

“A lot of these entities employ student workers, so that is a big priority in our mind to try and really mitigate the loss of student worker positions,” Harman said.

Kelli Farris, executive director for the Center for Student Involvement, said student programs would likely get cut after the last round of budget cuts caused CSI to lay off student staff.

“The percentages are challenging. A large majority of our budget is staff positions,” Farris said. “When we faced cuts last, we ended up having to cut and eliminate our student staff. None of us want to lay off students, particularly in this time when people are needing jobs in order to pay for school.”

Farris said CSI already operates on a slim budget, making it challenging to decide what will get cut.

“That’s really disheartening, especially for an office, as a unit, who is here to create a student experience on campus,” Farris said. “We may get to the point where we’re not able to provide that student experience. It’s tough to balance a professional staff person’s livelihood with whether or not a student has a good experience on campus.”

Farris said the callbacks contribute to a cycle.

“You have less people who are paying less fees, and you have less budget. In order to make up for that, you’re cutting programs on campus.” Farris said. “Students who are here aren’t having the same type of experience, so are they going out and saying ‘K-State is the best time of my life, you should go to school there’ or maybe not, so then it doesn’t recruit more students for the next situation.”

Kennedy Kaufman, freshman in business administration and marketing, said she is nervous about the budget cuts changing the campus experience.

“I get to meet people in my community, and without that, I wouldn’t be as happy to go here and be a part of K-State if they didn’t have good extra services,” Kaufman said. “Those are the reasons why people pick to go here.”

Harman said the Student Service Fee Committee will try to make the best decisions possible for the students who work there, the students on campus, and the “entities who are trying to do really good work.”

Harman, along with Student Body President Michael Dowd and Speaker of the Student Senate Blake Phillips, will evaluate the impact statements before presenting their decisions to the Student Service Fee Committee on Oct. 18.

If the committee approves the decisions, the legislation will be submitted to the Student Senate on Oct. 21 and up for debate vote, with final action the following week.

Advertisement