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The Carletonian

Carleton projects budget deficits in future

<rleton’s expenses projected to quickly outpace its revenues during the first half of this decade, college administrators are beginning to propose possible means of saving money and lessening the budget deficit.

In a report presented to staff on May 17, which was previously presented as a Financial Climate Report last month, Carleton projected a deficit of over a million dollars in the fiscal year 2012 and increasing deficits thereafter. The report, available on a section of Carleton’s website entitled Keeping Carleton Strong, says that 2012’s deficit is likely to total $2,053,000, including construction and operating costs for the new Arts Union.

While the 2012 deficit is a result of the new complex, the report says that the base budget (without the Arts Union) is also likely to be in the red beginning in 2013.

As a result of these budgetary concerns, Carleton is beginning to find means of increasing revenue and lowering expenses, which could potentially include cuts to certain programs, though Vice President and Dean of Admissions Paul Thiboutot said that bringing up these possibilities is not the same as implementing them.

“We try to make the changes that have the least impact and which are necessary,” Thiboutot said.
The May 17 report brings up several possible “programmatic adjustments” including smoothing enrollment, reducing staff numbers through attrition, adding more summer programs, delaying the upcoming 5-course teaching load and reducing funds spent on financial aid programs. However, these are only possibilities, Vice President and Treasurer Fred Rogers said.

“This is not a plan or report of things that are happening,” Rogers said. “It is a discussion of possibilities on addressing possible deficits.”

Among the possible aid reductions suggested in the report is a base reduction of the financial aid budget, which the report says could save the college up to $1 million per year. Another possible choice would be to withdraw from the Posse Program, a nationwide organization that Carleton has been working with for ten years. Posse sponsors groups of 10 students from 6 metropolitan areas to enroll at its colleges; Carleton has been working with the Chicago branch of Posse for 10 years, Thiboutot said.

While Carleton recently renewed its contract with Posse it still has the option to opt out starting in 2015, saving the college an estimated $175,000 per year, the report said.

Another possibility is the phasing out of Access Scholarships, the report said. Access Scholarships, which have been offered since the fall of 2008, are offered to families making under $75,000 per year and reduces the amount of loan debt on students by effectively replacing loan money with grant money. The scholarships, which cost the college around $250,000 per year, were developed as a response to no-loan policies at other colleges in an attempt to remain competitive among lower-income students, Thiboutot said.

“If we need to save that money, we can sacrifice that competitiveness,” Thiboutot said.

The smoothing of enrollment would be an efficiency measure to increase the number of students on campus fall term, which on average amounts to around 100 fewer students than winter term, the report said. Potential means of accomplishing this could include per-term limitations on non-Carleton off-campus study programs, creating incentives for students to stay on campus in the fall and restricting participation by students in second or third OCS programs, the report said.

The 5-course teaching load mentioned in the report, which is an already approved reduction in teachers’ course load, has already been delayed until 2013; the suggestion is for the changes to be delayed for two additional years, the report said.

Rogers said that the budget issue is being discussed in meetings with staff and will certainly be high on the agenda of Steven G. Poskanzer upon becoming Carleton’s president in August. The report says that the Budget Committee will recommend a budget for 2012 in the fall that will be approved by the Board of Trustees next February.

“I don’t think of this as definitive,” Rogers said. “We’re trying to update people on where we are.”

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