Declining enrollment leads to budget deficit for student service fees

The student services fee faces a budget shortfall of around $ 2 million for fiscal year 2022, which has prompted various callbacks for organizations that benefit from the fee, said Max Harman, chief executive officer of the Biochemistry and Global Food Systems and Chair of the Student Services Fee Committee.

According to the Student Governance Association website, the student service fee – previously known as the campus lien fee – is a campus-wide fee set by the Kansas Board of Regents.

The fee supports non-pedagogical student service activities such as Lafene Health Center, K-State Student Union, counseling and psychology services, and others.

A drop in enrollment caused the deficit, which prompted the chair of the Student Services Fee Committee, the chair of the Student Senate and the chair of the student body to embrace the insufficient funds process. The committee gave all fee-funded entities 10 working days to submit an impact study outlining the implications of various budget cuts.

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

“Insufficient funds are certainly not normal,” said Harman. “We really hope we never have to use it except in emergency scenarios like we are, and [that] was sped up due to [COVID-19] and declining enrollment.

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

“The goal of the underfunding process is to look at the nuances and try to minimize the harsh impacts of these cuts,” Harman said. “Using the information that the entities give us, we try to make decisions about where we can make cuts without significantly affecting the student experience. ”

Harman said KBOR dictated that student service fees could not increase, making budget cuts necessary.

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

However, Harman said the committee had other tools at its disposal, such as a bond surplus account set aside for unusual circumstances to prevent the deficit from being fully covered by reminders.

“We try to minimize the harm to entities, especially the services faced by students and the student experience on campus,” Harman said.

Harman said the impact of the reminders on the students was not clear, but that is why they are collecting statements.

“A lot of these entities employ students, so it’s a high priority in our minds to try to really mitigate the loss of student positions,” Harman said.

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

“The percentages are difficult. A large majority of our budget is spent on staff positions, ”said Farris. “The last time we faced cuts, we ended up having to downsize and eliminate our student staff. None of us want to fire students, especially at this time when people need jobs to pay for their education.

Farris said CSI is already operating on a limited budget, making it difficult to decide what will be cut.

“It’s really disheartening, especially for an office, as a unit, that’s here to create a student experience on campus,” Farris said. “We can get to the point where we are not able to provide that student experience. It is difficult to strike a balance between making a living for a professional staff member and whether or not a student has a good campus experience.

Farris said the recalls contribute to a cycle.

“You have fewer people paying less and you have less budget. To compensate for this, you are removing the programs on campus. said Farris. “The students who are here don’t have the same type of experience so they come out and say ‘K-State is the best time of my life, you should go to school there’ or maybe -be not, then don’t recruit more students for the next situation.

Kennedy Kaufman, a freshman in business administration and marketing, said she was nervous that budget cuts would change the campus experience.

“I meet people in my community, and without it I wouldn’t be so happy to go here and be a part of K-State if they didn’t have some good extra services,” Kaufman said. “These are the reasons people choose 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 that are trying to do a really good job.”

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

If the committee approves the decisions, the legislation will go to the Student Senate on October 21 and go to a debate vote, with a final decision the following week.