UofL trustees committee approves budget with 5 percent cut, 4 percent tuition hike

The University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Hall

The finance committee of the University of Louisville board of trustees approved a proposed budget for the next fiscal year at the meeting on Wednesday, which institutes a 5 percent cut in general fund spending and a 4 percent increase in student tuition.

The trustees and new president Neeli Bendapudi had previously signaled that both the budget cut and tuition increase would be necessary for the next academic year, citing continued cuts in state appropriations, a drop in endowment spending from the UofL Foundation and a need the university’s emergency cash on hand.

The budget is expected to be given final approval without any major changes by the full board of trustees at their meeting next week.

Presenting the proposed budget to the trustees, interim CFO Susan Howarth stated that while students’ tuition will increase by 4 percent next year — $11,511 for in-state students — their mandatory athletic fee would be cut in half to $50. She added that this makes the effective increase on in-state students closer to 3.5 percent.

Trustees chairman J. David Grissom made note of this 3.5 percent figure, saying that this would be “important for messaging.”

While the athletic fee of students was cut in half, others are going up in the proposed budget. Fees for student housing will increase 2 percent for traditional double rooms and 3 percent for newer apartment-style rooms, while meal plan rates will increase by 3 percent.

The budget also provides a $1.8 million increase in central financial aid to help offset the tuition hike, as well as a $500,000 increase in scholarships for the Brandeis School of Law.

Total expenditures on salaries and wages for employees would decrease by 1.7 percent, or $4.5 million.

The total amount of endowment support received from the UofL Foundation — the university nonprofit that has undergone major reforms over the past two years to rein in spending — will decrease by 21 percent, from $82.4 million in the current year to $65.1 million.

After the meeting, Bendapudi told reporters that the 4 percent tuition increase “is one of those necessary evils that we have to do, for now. Our hope is to not have to do that again.”

She noted the budget’s increase in financial aid and that UofL was the only state school to freeze student tuition last year, which means that UofL is “still highly competitive.”

“It’s not an easy thing to do, to increase tuition, because we all care about access and affordability,” said Bendapudi.