Augusta State will receive same state funding

Augusta State University officials have not called for any layoffs or furloughs among faculty next year despite dwindling funding from the state for operations.

The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents has allotted ASU $25 million for its fiscal year 2012 budget, roughly the same amount the school received last year, according to Therese Rosier, the vice president for business operations.

While the state used to fund about 75 percent of what it cost to run the university, Rosier said that support has fallen to 49 percent this year.

The remainder of the school's $50 million budget is projected to be made up through tuition.

Rosier said after about $43 million is paid out for salaries and $2.2 million is spent on utility costs, it leaves the university with about $4 million for general operations.

"Are we worried this year? I think everybody is worried," Rosier said. "There's been so many changes ... but our objective is not to cut any programs, not to let any faculty go."

Although students statewide will face a 3 percent tuition increase and $100 more in fees, fall enrollment is about equal to the sign-up levels this time last year, Rosier said.

Given the state funding cuts, universities will strongly rely on tuition despite tuition increases and cuts to Georgia's HOPE Scholarship program.

Understanding the financial burden on students, Rosier said ASU officials are not predicting large growth in the student body, but instead are aiming for a flat head count.

The head count in June last year was 3,903 before the population reached 6,950 in the fall. On June 11 this year, Rosier said the school had 3,845 signed up for August classes.

Although the university system has seen a slight increase in population, Board of Regents spokesman John Millsaps said schools will not receive any additional funding to support the extra students.

Last year, the state appropriated $1.9 billion to its schools but this year will be able to allot just $1.7 billion.

"Historically, the state's been able to accommodate (student population increases), but for the first time, because of the severity of the budget for the state, the governor was not in a position to recommend those additional dollars be appropriated," Millsaps said.

At the same time schools are receiving less money from the state, they will receive more money from students because of higher tuition and fees, which can somewhat offset that void, Millsaps said.

To make up for shortfalls in ASU's budget, some projects slated for next year have been postponed and officials have projected $400,000 in energy reductions.

Some projects now off the table are a $100,000 customer service center for students and a $500,000 renovation of the dam near ASU's Forest Hills Golf Club.

Those decisions were made to preserve the university's most important resource, Rosier said: its people.

"We feel that the human resources part of the university is the strong piece that's needed to give the students the education they're looking for and they deserve," Rosier said. "That being said, you have to cut somewhere."

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