NEW ORLEANS-- UNO is dealing with a major financial blow in what administrators call a surprise budget cut. The state has slashed nearly $9 million from UNO's budget and the university is scrambling to figure out what can be kept, what must go and where they can find more money.
Accounting major Kasandra Larsen plans to graduate from UNO at the end of the year. Before she does, though, she'll face one more semester, with a ten percent increase in tuition.
'I mean 10 percent, yeah, that's going to hurt and I'm sure there are already students for which the tuition is difficult,' Larsen said. 'I mean, I'm borrowing all of my tuition money and I'll have to pay it back.'
UNO now faces an $8.9 million dollar cut in its budget for next year. During a faculty and staff meeting on Tuesday, University President Dr. Peter Fos said the move-- made during the waning days of the legislative session-- came as a surprise.
'We expected the cut to be very, very small,' Fos said. 'But there was one amendment to move $18 million to the Health Sciences Center, which we didn't expect.'
That's when Fos said the cut to UNO became nearly $9 million. The university set up two committees, which are now trying to figure out where to cut.
'I don't really know how we're going to find the funds,' said University Center Director Margaret Royerre, who sits on one of the committees.
UNO was already facing another cut at the end of this month of around a million dollars. On top of that, enrollment is down between 400 and 500 students, which means the university is taking in less money through tuition and fees.
'[A] combination of that $8.9 million, plus the shortfall in fees, created the $11-12 million problem you heard,' said Linda Robison, UNO's Vice President of Business Affairs.
What is at risk? University officials wouldn't say specifically, but did say academic programs with 'low completion rates' could be cut. More than 100 adjunct and part-time faculty members could also be cut. What will not happen, said Fos, are across the board cuts.
'I'm not doing across the board cuts. That's a slow death to an institution,' he said. 'We've worked through other cuts and we're going to work through this one as well.'
Along with the money UNO gets from the state, there are three other ways it can raise money. One is through philanthropy and fundraising; another is money generated through research; and finally, student tuition. That 10 percent hike in tuition works out to an extra $520 a year for a full-time student.