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Thursday, June 8, 2023


With enrollment up, financial losses mitigated by federal relief funds

Spring enrollment numbers and UH System financial losses were reported at the Board of Regents meeting Thursday, alongside information about the second phase of federal stimulus grants and news about a potential coming stimulus.

As anticipated in the Board’s December meeting, the predominant mode of instruction for the spring continues to be online. 

This has not led to a reduction in enrollment numbers for the spring. Instead, the University has seen a 2 percent increase in enrollment spring-over-spring, with 43,000 students enrolled. 

The system overall is approaching 71,000 enrolled students. Though it is still too soon to predict total enrollment, Bartlett reported on fall applications as well. 

First-time college student applications at the University are above 30,000 and transfer applications are over 25,000, according to Bartlett. 

“For Fall 2021, it’s early, but we have encouraging signs,” said Bartlett. 

In December, the Board had projected a $108 million loss, mainly through auxiliary services. That loss estimate has now dropped to $100 million due to additional revenues from housing, with occupancy up 5 percent, and parking, with permits up 7 percent, according to the Board. 

Containment of operating expenses and improved COVID-19 cost estimates contributed to the drop in the projected loss by $4.5 million as well. The loss will be further mitigated by $67 million in federal stimulus funds. 

“And if we think about that $100 million loss across the system, of course, the federal stimulus dollars that we have been granted will cover approximately two-thirds of that cost,” said Bartlett.

The Board’s financial plan is underway, though discussions about opportunities for leverage can continue. 

The plan includes consolidation and elimination of operations, payroll reductions, discretionary spending cuts and bond refunding, as well as Federal Emergency Management Agency recovery of COVID-19 costs, use of savings and reserves and federal stimulus payments. 

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II, which is the second wave of federal stimulus, awarded the University system $94 million, a 63 percent increase from the first payment. 

From that figure, about $27 million will be spent on student aid and $67 million will go to institutional support to cover expenses related to COVID-19. 

“There is a third round being discussed right now,” vice chancellor for Governmental Relations Jason Smith said. “It looks as though the House will pass their version of that either tomorrow or Saturday, and then we will see what happens on the Senate side.”

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