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Fall enrollment decline could result in $54M loss for Michigan State University

EAST LANSING, MI — Enrollment is down nearly 900 students at Michigan State University compared to last year, and it could cost the university $54 million in revenue as officials keep working through the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Enrollment for the fall 2020 semester is 49,695, which is 883 less students than the 50,578 enrolled in fall 2019, according to MSU’s enrollment report. There are drops in both out-of-state and international undergraduate students, which MSU President Samuel Stanley said could play a large role in the university’s revenue loss.

“The current tuition revenue reflects both a decline in total enrollment and an adverse change in student composition,” Stanley said in a letter to the MSU community. “It also is essential to note, a smaller class will have at least a four-year impact on our budget as that class moves through each year toward graduation.”

From 2019 to 2020, MSU’s international enrollment declined by 1,165 students, according to the report,

According to MSU’s office of admissions website, in-state freshmen pay approximately $14,524 for tuition and fees. That number increases to $39,830 for out-of-state freshmen and $41,330 for international students.

MSU chose to freeze tuition for the 2020-21 academic year, marking the third year in a row tuition did not increase at the university.

Michigan State University freezing tuition rates amid coronavirus pandemic

This summer, Stanley and MSU administrators implemented cost-cutting measures after predicting losses of between $150 million and $300 million for fiscal year 2021, including:

  • Deferring some capital projects
  • Reducing unit spending by a minimum of 3%
  • Cutting pay for all MSU executive managers and deans, ranging between 2% and 10%
  • Furloughing more than 800 union employees and 700 student employees in units with severe budgetary challenges such as residential and hospitality services
  • Reducing wages for non-union faculty and academic staff, ranging from 1% to 7%, with those earning less than $50,000 annually exempt from reductions
  • Reducing the employer-match in retirement contributions for all faculty and academic staff from a 2:1 ratio to 1:1
  • Reducing university-related travel, contractors and vendors

MSU is also utilizing some of its reserves to fill remaining budget holes, Stanley said. MSU also has increased costs related to the coronavirus pandemic due to online class delivery, technology upgrades, cleaning and sanitation and COVID-19 testing and detection efforts, Stanley said.

MSU is delivering almost all its classes online, and Stanley — along with University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel and Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson — said he doesn’t expect students to return to the classroom until next fall.

Students not expected to return to in-person classes until fall 2021, college presidents say

Cost-saving measures will continue, Stanley said, adding he plans to meet with the board of trustees in the coming weeks to discuss the university’s finances.

“In the meantime, MSU will continue to deliver on its core mission as an inclusive community with strong academic disciplines and a liberal arts foundation,” Stanley said. “Despite our challenges, we will continue providing a world-class education, conducting high-caliber research and advancing outreach and engagement locally and globally.”

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