NU President Proposes Budget Cuts Amid Expected $43 Million Shortfall Over Next Three Years

June 19, 2020, 3:10 p.m. ·


University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter announced a budget plan which assumes a $43 million shortfall over the next three years.

The anticipated shortfall is due to COVID-19 and an expected enrollment reduction. It represents a 4.3% decrease in the university system’s state-aided budget.

Carter says the shortfall could have been worse, and credited a tuition freeze and the announcement of the Nebraska Promise program, an open campus in the fall, a reduction in the cost of online tuition, and a tuition freeze for preventing further enrollment reductions.

Carter said the university is focusing its strategy on Nebraska in-state students.

“That is where our true north is going forward, is to make sure that we retain the confidence and welcome our Nebraskan students to know that we are a place of great value and the future of education,” Carter said.

Carter said since the announcement of the Nebraska Promise program, applications from in-state students are up 8% compared to last year. The program offers free tuition to students from families that make less than $60,000 a year.

Despite that increase, the university is planning for a 10% enrollment drop among international and out of state students, which will mean a loss of $17.5 million.

That loss will most heavily affect the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, which has a larger out of state student population.

UNL will take a 5.5% budget cut. The University of Nebraska Kearney and at Omaha will each take a 3.9% cut. The University of Nebraska Medical Center will have a 2.9% cut, and the system’s central administration is taking a 10% cut. The Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture will maintain their budget.

Non-union faculty will not receive a raise this year, but will receive a 1.5% increase next year and 3% the following year. Union staff will receive raises as normal.

Carter said despite cuts the system is planning for the future, with the intent to spend $20 million on presidential priority initiatives.

“And those initiatives are centered around diversity and inclusion," Carter said. "In fact on [August 1] I will be sending $200,000 to UNK, UNO, and UNL to make students that are in the Nebraska Promise program successful, not to just get in the door but to be successful in retention and eventually graduation.”

Carter's budget proposal will have to be approved by the Board of Regents next Friday. He says the system as already absorbed around $50 million in revenue losses because of the pandemic.

The University of Nebraska has received about $30 million in CARES Act money, but Carter says half of that has already been allocated to students in need.

Editor's Note: This article has been edited to correct what entity received CARES Act funding.