Trustees Conditionally Approve Budget Without Covid-19 Tuition Increases

Orono, Maine — The University of Maine System Board of Trustees conditionally approved an FY 2021 budget for Maine’s public universities today that does not include any Covid-19-related tuition or fee increases.  The vote came as part of the June 26, 2020 Special Board Meeting.  

The budget proposal includes an unresolved $5.69 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1, approximately 1% of the $559 million spending plan. 

The anticipated costs of responding to the global pandemic at Maine’s public universities in the upcoming budget year will exceed $20 million in terms of lost event revenue, student safety allowances in dining and residence hall operations, and investments in technology and safety equipment and supplies.  

“The expenses and uncertainty of Covid-19 has created unprecedented budget challenges for Maine’s public universities,” said Chancellor Dannel Malloy.  “While there is work yet to do, today’s vote by the Board makes it clear that students and their families will not face a tuition increase this fall related to the costs of Covid-19.” 

Conditional approval as outlined in the Board resolution approved today requires budget reviews before the Board’s Finance, Facilities, and Technology Committee and the full Board this fall as uncertainties around state appropriations, enrollments, and Covid-19 expenses are resolved — see the resolution on page 2 of the Board materials.  

The budget conditionally approved by the Board does include a long-planned tuition adjustment for the rate of inflation of 2.5% as determined by the consumer price index — see page 25 of the Board materials.  The University of Maine System has been planning for the inflation-based adjustment since the start of its budget process a year ago and has been forecasting the intention to annually increase tuition at a rate not to exceed the rate of inflation through FY 2021 since the Multi-Year Financial Analysis published in May of 2017 (slide 2 projected inflation for FY 21 at 2.3%).

The resolution conditionally approving the FY 2021 UMS Budget passed by a vote of 13-1.  Student Trustee Trevor Hustus was the dissenting vote.