By Tim Leeds
Dr. Roger Barber, provost and senior vice chancellor at Montana State University-Northern, said it's still too early to say what the institution's budget for this year will be like.
He said there are still too many variables to be accounted for to make any statements about the budget. Barber said the final official count of full-time equivalents (FTE,) the student count that state funding is based on, is still not final, and until it is the final budget situation is also unknown.
He said one factor that is pretty well past is students dropping out because of non-payment of fees. He said many of them end up re-enrolling after that period.
He said the second period for counting FTEs that recently ended is the official reporting period to the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. He said while this period was over, he did not have the final count yet to report on its effect on the budget.
Barber said that the university has balanced the budget the last two years and even had a surplus that has been used to pay down an accumulated budget deficit due to declining enrollments.
He said recent program evaluation, changes and elimination, and faculty elimination will have an effect, but that it would take some time for the effect to take place. For example, he said, some faculty positions have been eliminated, but due to a one-year notice required by their collective bargaining agreements, this saving will not be seen this year.