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Fri. 10:13 a.m.: YSU finances take a hit from all-time low enrollment

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State University’s full-time equivalent student enrollment levels this semester are at an all-time low of 11,298 students or 9,031 FTE.

That is 7.3 percent lower than last year.

The enrollment picture was outlined this week in a letter to the campus community from Brien Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Neal McNally, vice president for finance and operations.

“While this is unfortunate, it is not surprising given the regional demographic challenges facing northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania,” they wrote. “In fact, the University’s operating budget for the current fiscal year 2022 is based, in part, on the assumption that enrollment would decline again this year. And it has.”

According to Smith and McNally, university revenues from tuition and fees this fall semester are $2.6 million lower than last fall.

Over the course of the entire 2021-22 fiscal year, they estimate that revenue from tuition and fees will decline by $5.6 million.

“At the same time, inflationary pressure continues to drive up University spending for everything from employee salaries and benefits to technology infrastructure and campus maintenance,” they said.

But the two officials do note that YSU’s budget remains balanced, largely due to the fact that the fiscal year 2022 budget relies on more than $10 million in one-time federal COVID-19 relief funding.

“While that funding has provided the University with much needed financial assistance, it represents temporary relief that cannot be counted on beyond the current fiscal year. In other words, the University is potentially facing a structural budget deficit in excess of $10 million,” they warned the campus community.

This glum budget news follows right on the heels of a tremendously successful seven-year campaign called “We See Tomorrow.”

The campaign raised $126,187,126 — exceeding the initiative’s original $100 million goal.

The amount is by far YSU’s largest in its 113-year history and is thought to be the Mahoning Valley’s biggest philanthropic effort. The campaign, led by the YSU Foundation, the university’s fundraising arm, attracted more than 32,500 gifts, including 40 of $1 million or more as well as 57 of at least $100,000.

But that money is being put to specific uses:

• $70.4 million for student scholarships and student work opportunities.

• $22.2 million for the universityás annual fund.

• $13.1 million to triple the number of endowed faculty chairs and professorships.

• $6.8 million for the Excellence Training Center.

• $4.4 million for campus beautification projects.

• $4.1 million for the Paula and Anthony Rich Center for Autism.

• $3.8 million to form high-tech Classrooms of the Future.

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