First, the good news: While there are certainly challenges, the university’s overall financial position is sound.
But while the amounts are not insubstantial ($44.5 million in new baseline allocations and $161.2 million in new one-time allocations), virtually all of those new dollars must be allocated to cover mandatory costs. In fact, 93% of the new funding is already designated for costs directly associated with enrollment, compensation and mandatory costs, and 34% of that “new” funding is CSUF’s money that was held back by the Chancellor’s Office last year for compensation increases and the university’s own tuition revenue. Graduation Initiative 2025 represents another 7%, which must be used for designated purposes. So…there is not much left after accounting for all the mandatory expenses.
“We’ve had to tighten our belts several notches and make sure we were living within our means, all the while focusing on decreasing equity gaps, providing the services and educational opportunities our students need, and continue working through the pandemic,” said Virjee. “Despite these challenges of the last few years, we have continued to work hard to assure financial solvency. We cut our budgets, exhausted our reserves and used one-time Higher Education Emergency Relief funds to help us through while still graduating one of the largest classes in the university’s history. We’ve remained focused on closing equity gaps, hired 30 new tenure-track faculty, opened more than 150 additional course sections, hired 21 counselors, expanded funding for faculty research and much more.
“We are strong academically and we still managed to balance our budget and have not gone into the red. With HEER funds, we were able to restore our reserve. This is especially important as we move into the headwinds we are expecting.
“We are also looking at how we’re doing compared to other campuses within the CSU system,” said Virjee. “We continue to press the Chancellor’s Office on the fact that we’re one of the lowest-funded CSU campuses (per full-time student equivalent). However, we have made some progress. For the first time in decades, we are now 22 out of 23 campuses. We were able to convince the CO in the creation of an equalization formula comparing campuses that are similar in size, demographics and geography. This includes Northridge and Long Beach, both of whom receive more funding than CSUF.
“The campus will continue to move and push for appropriate funding levels. We are facing an enrollment challenge (the CSU system is down 7%) and we have to prepare as a system and campus on how we will meet enrollment targets.
“Yet, despite these challenges, the university finished the year without a deficit based on the work of the divisions to track and manage their budgets.”