UVM President: COVID-19 could mean decline in enrollment, revenue loses

Local News

BURLINGTON, Vt. – University of Vermont President Dr. Suresh Garimella said the COVID-19 pandemic could mean fewer out-of-state students arriving on the campus and cost the school tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

In an e-mail to the campus community Monday, Garimella detailed the financial challenges created by COVID-19, including a rise in unplanned-for expenses to deal with the pandemic.

Garimella poined to a recent survey that suggests four-year colleges could see a 20 percent drop in enrollment as more students decide to attend college close to home. With 73 percent of UVM undergraduates from out-of-state, Garimella said revenues could drop significantly.

“If we experience even a half of the enrollment decrease predicted by current national surveys, we will suffer a $26 million loss of revenue, or over 7 percent of our general fund budget,” Dr. Garimella wrote.

The ongoing crisis has raised information technology costs due to the purchase of special supplies and equipment, he said. COVID-19 related expenses aren’t expected to slow down, either, as the university makes testing more available to the campus community.

“By June 30, these costs will amount to almost $8.7 million,” Garimella said. “Our budget certainly did not anticipate such new expenses. In addition, we expect to incur another $6.4 million in COVID-19 direct expenses as we prepare to welcome students back to campus in the fall.”

UVM had already announced measures to reduce expenses, including a hiring freeze and budget cuts for administrative support. Garimella said endowment funds can’t be used to meet the budget challenge because it’s made up of over 800 individual gifts, most of which specify how proceeds may be used.

“I personally would like to do all we can to minimize pain, particularly for those at the lower end of the spectrum here in pay,” Garimella said. “We’ve heard from some that they may want to reduce the time they work or not work over the summer, so there may be some voluntary options.”

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