SF State president predicts $38 million budget cut for 2020-21 school year

SF State President Lynn Mahoney predicted in an email sent to all faculty members today that there would be a budget reduction close to $38 million for the 2020-21 school year.

The email from Mahoney comes in response to a budget revision announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature last week. According to that revision, the California State University (CSU) system’s allotment of the general fund will be decreased by 10%, which amounts to a $398 million loss across all of the Cal State schools.

Mahoney stated in the email that this approximates to a $22 million decrease in funding for SF State and will be compounded by what she predicts to be a $16 million decrease in tuition revenue due to dropping enrollment.

While a decline in enrollment is a side effect of COVID-19, Mahoney added that SF State, along with Northern California as a whole, has been suffering from a declining enrollment and poor student retention rates.

“Our declining enrollment is compounding the challenge of the state budget. In fall 2019, we served over 28,000 students. We anticipate closer to 25,000 students this fall, a dramatic and consequential decline,” she said. “We must prioritize the success of our students, minimizing any impact on student learning and services where possible.”

Despite any efforts to minimize the impact on students, tuition and fees at SF State will rise to $3,720 for students taking over six units and $2,514 for those taking less during the 2020-21 school year.

Mahoney added, in the letter, that although the loss is substantial, the school hopes to save money next year through changes in their liability premiums, savings in utilities and “through the judicious use of reserves.”

“We also hope that the Federal Government may further help mitigate this year’s reduction with short-term funds and strategies,” she said. “All of these mitigations—eligibly-usable reserves, CSU assistance, federal stimulus dollars—provide one-time funding to assist for this year only. This does, however, allow us time to work together to plan.”

SF State’s budget had been steadily on the rise since 2013, and if Mahoney’s prediction of a $38 million loss is correct, then available funds will be the lowest they’ve been since 2016.

“I know that this news will be unsettling. I can assure you that we will work transparently, collegially and collaboratively with the Academic Senate, Associated Students, our unions and our faculty, staff and students,” Mahoney said. “I remain optimistic that if we work together for the greater good of our students, we can weather a rough 2-3 years and emerge more firmly committed to our students and to one another and more valued in our role as the City’s University.”