Rutgers approves $4.5B budget, reflects sharp decline in revenue amid pandemic

The Rutgers University board of governors on Thursday have approved a revised $4.45 billion budget that was adjusted due to economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The amended budget for the year, which began on July 1, includes $86.6 million in state revenue that will help restore a previously proposed cut in state operating aid to the university. In all, direct state operating aid totals $473 million or 10% of Rutgers’ overall budget.

“Even with the restoration of $86.6 million in previously proposed cuts in state operating aid to the university, we are still in a fiscal emergency requiring extraordinary steps to fill the largest financial hole the university has ever experienced,” Michael Gower, chief financial officer for the university, said.

The budget included a number of cost saving initiatives, including wage freezes and furloughs for the university’s 23,600 employees, a ban on business travel, a continued suspension of new capital projects and a review of active ones, and a freeze on discretionary spending related to operating expenses.

Rutgers said the budget was short nearly $97 million in revenue, including a loss of $43 million in revenues related to health care, tuition, student housing, and dining and athletics.

“The pandemic has had a profound impact on finances at all colleges and universities, and Rutgers is no different,” Gower said.  “We have made good progress in closing the gap while, at the same time, we froze tuition and reduced fees for most of the 70,000 students who study and learn at Rutgers.”

Here’s a breakdown of the budget:

Major revenue reductions in:

  • Auxiliary revenues (housing, dining and parking, for example): the revised budget includes a reduction of $73.5 million;
  • Health care revenues: $43.4 million;
  • Other sources of revenues (including gifts and investment income): $11.2 million.

Significant cost increases in:

  • Student financial aid;
  • Student health services;
  • Student mental health services;
  • Technology needs for student in remote instruction environment;
  • Technology and support for faculty to provide remote instruction;
  • Supplies and materials for proper disinfecting of campus facilities and supplying appropriate personal protective equipment.