UVM president warns of potential cuts to come due to coronavirus

Published: May. 11, 2020 at 6:19 PM EDT
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The University of Vermont is bracing for the financial fallout from COVID-19.

In a letter Monday afternoon, President Suresh Garimella said despite measures they have already taken-- like restricting paid travel, a hiring freeze, administrative budget cuts, delayed borrowing for projects and renegotiating contracts-- it won't be enough to offset the financial impacts of the coronavirus.

UVM's challenges include:

-Nearly $15 million on immediate COVID-19 expenses.

-Another $5 million on health care premiums for employees.

-Plus, they expect to need to give out $20 million more in student financial aid.

-They also expect fewer students-- up to a $26 million loss.

Garimella warned that 68% of their budget goes toward personnel costs, and he indicated they'll be examining that in the weeks ahead. But he wouldn't say whether there would be layoffs.

"We will need to be making difficult decisions at all levels but we have to do that to ensure that the university itself survives through this process and our students are getting the best education possible," Garimella said.

Some of UVM's other challenges are:

-73% of their students are from out-of-state and surveys show students are now less likely to cross state lines for school.

-Changing demographics with our aging population, so there are fewer students to begin with.

-Less support from the state of Vermont than other states provide for higher education.

-Not being able to raise tuition to make up costs because Vermont's is already fourth-highest in the country for out-of-state students.

-And the university can only access a small percentage of its endowment each year and what they can use it for is limited.

When asked if they could make the changes they need to make without impacting the student experience, Garimella said he is confident they can still deliver a strong education.

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