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Impact of cut to funding unclear

Profile image for By Rachel Mehlhaff / Staff Writer
By Rachel Mehlhaff / Staff Writer

While it wasn't as large as it might have been, Texas universities will feel the effects of a $1 billion reduction in funding passed during the latest state legislative session.

Officials at the University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University say it is too early to determine how their budgets specifically have been affected by the approximately 4 percent reduction in formula funding from the state.

Thirty-six percent of UNT's funding comes from the state, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's "Sources and Uses" report for fiscal year 2009, and 30 percent of TWU's funding comes from the state.

Brenda Floyd, TWU's vice president of finance and administration, said TWU is not ready to comment on the funding cuts, but UNT Chancellor Lee Jackson made a few observations about his institution's condition in light of the cuts.

Jackson said that UNT prepared for the worst-case scenario, which would have been closer to an 8 percent reduction.

"There will still be some reduced opportunities," Jackson said, adding that no major plans have been interrupted by the reduced funding.

"We do have faculty hiring in the works, and those will continue," he said. "There just won't be quite as much of everything."

Jackson said the university had taken measures to prepare for the cuts, including holding funds in a reserve and instituting a partial hiring freeze.

Other factors that will determine the amount of money universities receive come from outcome-based funding, which includes graduation rates and awarding degrees to at-risk students as well as degrees in engineering, science and math. Jackson said UNT does well in those areas.

"That will help offset reductions in formula funding," he said.

Lawmakers also reduced the amount of financial aid the state will offer by 15 percent, according to a report released this month by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The Texas Grant program will be reduced by 10 percent, the Tuition Equalization Grant program will be reduced by 20 percent and the B-on-Time loan program will be reduced by 29 percent, the report said.

Jackson said that reduction would result in fewer students qualifying for state financial aid, which could affect enrollment.

Jackson said UNT was disappointed by the fact that legislators didn't approve any new buildings for state universities.

UNT "submitted requests for two new buildings to address that growth pressure," Jackson said, one for a research building and one for the College of Visual Arts.

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is .