College and University budgeting

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Throughout the units, you will look at how states like California are cutting the money they provide to public colleges and universities. For the Final Project, you will bring your examination of higher education finance full circle and investigate how these state funding cuts can alter decision making at individual institutions.

For the purposes of this project, imagine that you work at a medium-sized state university as the program chair for Developmental Education, a department which offers the remedial reading, writing, and math classes taken by students who do not place into college-level English and math classes based on their placement test scores. At your institution, students do not pay tuition for these courses. Each year, you must offer course sections serving approximately 2,000 students. The sections generally break down as follows:



Reading 001



Writing 001



Math 001



Math 002






You have four full-time faculty members who each teach 10 courses per year, with adjuncts teaching the rest. Each full-time faculty member makes $40,000 per year including benefits. Adjunct pay for one course in reading or writing is $1,500, while it is $1,800 for math, because it is harder to hire people who can teach math. Currently, your courses use normal classrooms, not computer labs, so you do not have any additional costs for labs or equipment.

Recently, your dean let you know that, due to state budget cuts, you are going to have to cut 10% from your budget next year. She has asked you to come up with five possible strategies for dealing with this cut, and an analysis of how each strategy will affect your department, your faculty, your students, and the institution. Strategies could include ways to cut costs or to increase revenue. You can assume that this is a one-time cut, and that funding levels the following year may return to normal; however, at least two of your strategies should assume that the cuts will be permanent.

Recommended Reading

Meisinger, R. J. (1994). College and university budgeting: An introduction for faculty and academic administrators. Washington, DC: National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved from

Chapter 4: “Allocating Resources and Increasing Flexibility”

Chapter 5: “Retrenchment and Reallocation”

These two chapters in this publication from the leading organization for higher education business officers will provide some useful ideas for your course project, including ways to meet cuts with creativity and make the most of the resources at hand.

Completing Your Final Project

While it is not necessary to use Microsoft Excel to complete this project, you can certainly do so. If you are not familiar with Excel, you can locate tutorials from Microsoft and other sources. A spreadsheet template is provided for your use that includes the information previously described. If you decide to work with the spreadsheet to model your budget-cutting strategies, this should not require more than very basic Excel skills.

To complete your Final Project, use the following outline:

  1. Introduction: State the problem, provide the reader with some context, and give an overview of your direction.
  2. Discuss each of your five strategies in a separate section using an APA formatted heading.
  3. In each section for each strategy: -Discuss how it will achieve the required cost savings -Discuss how it will likely impact key stakeholders (e.g., the department, the students, and the institution) -Summarize the benefits and limitations of each strategy
  4. Recommendation: Describe which strategy you believe presents the best solution and why.
  5. Conclusion: Summarize your key points and conclude your paper.

Your completed paper should be 10–15 pages of content. Before you submit it, make sure it has proper title and reference pages and follows APA (6th ed.) style.

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