PSU budget shortfall likely to result in cuts, tuition increase in fall
Author: Kurt Bedell, PSU Media and Public Relations
Posted: March 8, 2018

In the face of rising personnel and retirement costs, Portland State University projects a 3.4 percent budget shortfall in the 2018-19 academic year likely to be filled by budget cuts and a modest student tuition increase this fall.  

Vice President for Finance & Administration Kevin Reynolds outlined these realities at the first of two budget forum events for students, faculty and staff on Wednesday. 

He said that the 2018-19 budget shortfall is due in part to cost increases related to the state’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Because of PERS, the budget shortfall will nearly double in the subsequent fiscal year.  Without additional support from the state, these increased costs could mean steeper cuts and tuition hikes in 2019-20.

Portland State’s Board of Trustees, which oversees the budget for university operations, is committed to creating a balanced budget in the coming year and keeping any potential tuition increases below 5 percent.

PSU received a portion of the $70 million supplemental allocation provided to all Oregon public higher education institutions from the legislature and governor for the biennium which began in 2017. This allowed PSU to cut last year’s projected tuition increase from 5.45 percent rather than 8.9 percent originally proposed. 

Reynolds said that PSU has made budget reductions of more than $29.6 million over the last seven years while preserving key academic programs and offerings to minimize impact.  “It’s been difficult and painful,” Reynolds said, “but it’s absolutely essential to make choices that protect the academic mission of the university.”

Attendees were encouraged to share their ideas and recommendations for future strategy around how to set budget priorities, ways to generate external revenue, as well as how to build an equity-informed approach into the budget-setting process.  A variety of ideas were shared, including prioritizing academic programs and exploring ways to attract and retain high-quality faculty and staff to the university.

A second board forum event is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Smith Ballroom.