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ISU plans for budget cuts because of coronavirus

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POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - State colleges and universities are planning for budget cuts because of the coronavirus.

More than $36 million is being distributed to state institutions from the CARES Act. Idaho State University is receiving a little more than $7 million, which may not be enough.

ISU President Kevin Satterlee laid out a grim budget outlook caused by coronavirus shut downs.

“Its the events that we haven’t been able to host that actually generate revenue and bring money into the institution,” Satterlee said.

Half of ISU's stimulus money is allocated to covering those gaps, but Satterlee said it's not enough to make up for the losses.

“It probably won’t cover it, but it will make a large difference in us being able to keep the budget more stable,” Satterlee said.

All universities and colleges are crafting plans to deal with the loss of revenue. In ISU's case, that could mean slicing the 2021 budget by six percent.

“We have asked every college, every administrative unit, every business unit of the campus to bring forth a proposal of how they would cut their budgets by four percent, five percent and six percent going into next year,” Satterlee said.

A hiring freeze is already in place, which includes eliminating 120 vacant positions, according to Idaho EdNews. Layoffs and furloughs are also possibilities.

“Neither of which are good options. Nobody wants that. I don’t want that. But it may be necessary to meet some of the budget realities that are coming,” Satterlee said.

The budget cuts are a severe reality for ISU, as the university faces a possible $16 million deficit in 2021, the Idaho EdNews reports here.

Regardless of the bleak outlook, Satterlee and the university are prioritizing education.

“Most likely, we will see any budget reductions we have will actually be larger in our administrative units so that we can keep the academic units as whole as possible because they’re the ones everyday that deliver this education to the students and that’s the most important part of the budget,” he said.

Money set aside for student financial aid

The other $3.5 million is promised to ISU students to help cover expenses and keep them in school.

Satterlee said ISU has three priorities with this money:

  1. Help students cover costs they’ve incurred 
  2. Help students stay in school
  3. Help students who need it the most

“Students with the most financial need will have the most access, but still make sure that it's fair to all of our students,” Satterlee said.

A plan to distribute the checks is expected to be finalized by Friday.

“Then we can have our distributions pretty quickly after that. And probably be distributing the money this spring and even into the fall if our formula is developed in a way that helps students continue their education,” Satterlee said.

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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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