On Tuesday, the North Carolina House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Education offered its first budget proposal, with budget reductions to NC State of 15.5 percent.
Reductions are necessary for the state to manage its budget shortfall and NC State stands with the university system, prepared to do our part to offset the deficit. But, this level of cutting would do permanent damage and be difficult for us to recover from. We would lose somewhere between 550 and 700 unfilled and filled positions, including as many as 200 faculty positions. There’s no way to cut 15 percent—on top of the cuts taken over the past four years—and keep the academic strength of the institution.
Because state dollars are the primary source of funding for basic academic programs, cuts at this level would require eliminating approximately 3,200 faculty and staff positions across the system and eliminating about a quarter of a million class seats. As a result, students would find themselves in far larger classes and would find that courses they need for graduation are no longer offered or offered sporadically.
While we are grateful that the draft budget would fully fund enrollment growth in the first year and provide operating support for new buildings, state funding for need-based financial aid would shrink. About 60 percent of our in-state undergraduates depend on need-based financial aid, and rapid tuition increases have put additional strain on students and their families.
It’s important to understand that this is only a proposal and could change significantly before it comes to a vote. Recall that several weeks ago, the governor also offered her budget proposal, with reductions for the university system in the 9.5 percent range. The Senate will also weigh in.
That means a final budget is weeks away. We are working with UNC President Tom Ross and chancellors from all UNC universities to make our case for maintaining our state’s historic strength in higher education.
This is a challenging time for the state and for the state’s universities. We will do our part to shoulder the budget load. At NC State, we will continue our mission to be an engine for economic development. We will also continue to do everything we can to preserve the quality of the education we provide to students.
I understand the uncertainty that is an inevitable part of this type of budget conversation. We are working with the legislature to protect our budget to the extent possible.