MSU enrollment dip contributes to $54M revenue drop

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Michigan State University's fall enrollment is down 2%, contributing to a $54 million decline in revenue at the state's largest university amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Samuel Stanley said Wednesday.

Official numbers were finalized last week, showing 49,695 students enrolled, which is down by 866 from fall 2019, Stanley said in an email sent to the MSU community. Meanwhile, first-year enrollment is 8,228, which is down 335 from last year.

Samuel Stanley

Out-of-state and international enrollment was especially affected, the president said, and the smaller freshman class will impact the university for the next four years.

While MSU passed a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, MSU and the state's 14 other public universities learned in September that the state appropriation would remain flat in 2020-21.

"The recent news about state funding and enrollment is better than we anticipated, but it is still below levels of a typical year and we still have significant deficits to cover," Stanley wrote. "MSU leadership has been planning for multiple funding scenarios."

Pandemic-associated costs include shifts to online class delivery, upgrades in technology, cleaning and sanitation, along with COVID-19 testing and early detection efforts, Stanley said.

Other losses have occurred in athletics, residency and hospitality, with fewer students living on campus, and the postponement of most fall sports.

MSU also had to cover losses earlier this year, at the beginning of the pandemic.

To respond, it took numerous steps, including pay cuts for MSU executives and deans of 2-10%; wage reductions for nonunion faculty and academic staff of 1-7%. Those earning less than $50,000 annually were exempt.

MSU also required furloughs for 800 union employees and 700 student employees in especially hard-hit areas, such as residential and hospitality services, and deferred some capital projects.

It also reduced university-related travel, contractors and vendors. It also scaled back employer-match in retirement contributions for all faculty and academic staff from a 2:1 ratio to 1:1.

“I will be meeting with the Board of Trustees in the coming weeks to discuss our finances and moving forward," Stanley wrote. "For now, all of the cost-saving measures listed above will continue. And the university will continue to seek engagement with our unions. I will share more information and updates with our campus when additional decisions have been made.”