Texas State needs to find ways to develop more strategies this year to overcome potentially greater budget cuts enacted during the new state legislative session.
According to a Jan. 17 report from educationdive.com, the current budget for higher education in Texas is $15.1 billion. The corresponding projected budgets from the Senate and the Texas House of Representatives are $14.8 and $14.9 billion. If the Texas legislature passes its preliminary budget proposals, a 2 percent funding cut will take place at higher education institutions during the next three years. The reductions are predicted to be steep, so many universities may be forced to make changes to their curriculum and possibly cut faculty positions, likely hurting students in the process.
Education is such a crucial component to a student’s future, so it is important Texas State officials utilize the university’s resources to offset any current or future budget cuts.
According to an April 11 University Star article, $17 million was cut from Texas State’s budget in 2011. This loss was already substantial, and the university is anticipating similar or even deeper budget cuts this year. Professors are likely to be the most affected by these cuts, which could make the school year challenging for many.
Many students do not realize exactly how much money is cut each year in budget reductions. However, it is apparent these cuts pose a devastating effect. Professors may be concerned about how the budget cuts are going to influence their instruction in the classroom and the availability and quality of resources. This, in turn, can lead to stressed students.
One-on-one time with professors has become rare because there does not appear to be enough instructors to support the growing amount of students attending the university. According to a Nov. 15 University Star article, Texas State had a student-to-faculty ratio of 29-1 in fall 2010. This number, according to the same article, is the highest of public colleges in Texas. With the number of students far outweighing the number of professors, the workload has become exceedingly difficult for many professors.
The consequences of budget cuts may seem insurmountable, but there are ways the university could prepare for a potentially smaller source of funding in the near future. Many students may not favor a hike in tuition and fees, but increasing the amount by even a few dollars could help solve the growing budget problem at Texas State. In addition, reallocating money from services that do not serve the primary function of education could benefit the university.
According to information from the Student Business Services website, a student taking 15 or more credit hours has to pay a total of $4,545.45 in tuition. Of that money, 7.11 percent goes towards athletics and 2.48 percent for campus recreation. The university could ensure money is placed where it is needed most if some of those funds were dispersed equally among educational resources instead.
According to an article on educator.com, another way to lower costs and soften budget cuts is to reduce “waste.” The university could reduce waste by decreasing the amount of staff traveling with sports teams and substituting print newsletters, course evaluations and syllabi with less expensive, online formats. The university could similarly help reduce the budget by keeping a close watch on thermostats to lower utility bills.
Texas State is likely going to have to face budget cuts again this year. However, implementing some of these solutions could mitigate some of the negative outcomes the budget may bring.