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Low enrollment at Buffalo State has created a $4.7 million budget deficit

Posted at 10:50 AM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 18:38:26-04

In a letter to faculty and staff, the President of Buffalo State revealed a major budget deficit created, in part, by the school's declining enrollment numbers.

That budget deficit has led the school to put in place a hiring freeze through the end of the fiscal year.  The school will be able to fill positions considered crucial to operating the school, but others will be left open for the time being.

Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner is the President of Buffalo State.  In the letter, she said the incoming freshman class of 1,700 was the third-largest at the school in 25 years.  Buffalo State has seen fewer transfer and graduate students joining the school, along with fewer upperclassmen deciding to return.

"We're going to be very proactive and reach out to those students and find out: what was it that prevented you from coming back?," Melanie Perreault, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs for Buffalo State said.  "Is it purchasing books? We can help you with that.  Do you need $500 to fix your car?  We can find ways to help you with that."

Perreault also said the number of college aged students (18-25 years old) in Western New York has been decreasing, making it difficult for many schools in the area.

Total enrollment in Fall 2016 is 9,475 students at Buffalo State.  Dr. Conway-Turner said that is about 800 students less than fall 2015 enrollment.

Dr. Conway-Turner said the college faces a $3.3 million structural deficit and an additional $1.4 million being spent on "one-time unfunded costs for negotiated salary payments".  The school is projecting an all-funds budget deficit of $4.7 million for the current school year.

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), overall college enrollment has been declining since 2010.  That year, 21,019,438 students were enrolled in post-secondary institutions.  In 2014, it was 20,207,369 students.  A drop of more than 800,000 people.

However, NCES is projecting total undergraduate enrollment to increase over the next decade.