Building a Sustainable Budget for Our Future
This is a challenging time in Colorado College history, as it is for virtually everyone across the nation. It requires the college’s leaders to make extremely tough decisions to ensure that the overall enterprise of Colorado College endures. For more detail and updates on how CC is navigating economic challenges, please visit http://www.coloradocollege.edu/news_events/budget/
Preserving the Unique Intellectual Adventure
The leadership of Colorado College is committed to preserving and enhancing the unique intellectual adventure that defines CC. Even during the process of cutting and trimming, which has sometimes been very difficult, the focus will be on the quality of the student experience inside the classroom and beyond. Colorado College will maintain small classes and a rich offering of field blocks, as well as continue to nurture study-abroad experiences. And in decisions about co-curricular activities the leadership will seek to maintain and strengthen the quality of student experiences. The college deliberately went forward with a search for outstanding new faculty to fill positions in six academic departments. All six first-choice candidates agreed to join the college next fall. (See story here)
The goal of Colorado College is “to provide the finest liberal arts education in the country.” The collective dedication to our mission underpins some difficult decisions that will help ensure that a CC education retains its value indefinitely.
The Colorado College Endowment
Like other colleges and universities, CC has seen the value of its endowment decline sharply. Endowment payout covers about 30 percent of operating costs. And key expenses, such as financial aid, remain unclear; nor is it clear at this point exactly how many students will choose to come to CC in the fall. Though the endowment outperformed the market for the past year, it still experienced a substantial decrease in value, declining 22 percent for the calendar year ending December 31, 2008, (and down slightly more from its high in September 2007). Consequently, the college’s leadership anticipates reduced payouts for the next three or four years.
Deep but Thoughtful Cuts
The ad hoc Budget Planning Team at Colorado College was created to collaboratively develop a plan to cut deficits anticipated over the next three fiscal years. The group was made up of faculty, staff, students, administrators, and trustees, and was chaired by the dean of the college/dean of the faculty. The college is now establishing a standing budget committee. Under the leadership of the Budget Planning Team, the college is taking steps to reduce projected spending by at least $8 million; ultimately it will identify what is needed to save as much as $12 million in the operating budget. These savings are necessary for three reasons: The endowment payout will be significantly lower; annual giving is expected to decline by a modest amount; and there is a growing need for student financial aid.
Giving to the College
Annual giving has stayed strong. The college is deeply grateful for loyal donors who have provided that critical dependable support. While the number of donors is down, the dollars themselves were up a bit to offset the decline. Still, 2009 will likely be a more difficult year for Colorado College donors.
When the 2009-10 budget was originally developed, before the economic downturn, a 5.25 percent increase in tuition was projected. Anticipating families’ financial burdens, the college’s leaders reduced the increase to 4 percent for the coming year (the lowest increase in more than 30 years). Room and board will rise by 3.5 percent.
Information for this story was obtained from the CC Budget Planning Team, an ad hoc group made up of the dean, faculty, staff, students, and trustees, tasked with spearheading the development of a sustainable budget in an economically turbulent time.