Over the past two weeks, Vice President for Finance and Business Marc Mathews and Associate Vice President and Director of Human Resources Jeff Mudrak gave presentations discussing Transylvania’s budget and health insurance update. This update showed that, after the 2015-2016 school year, Mathews and the board are working to get the budget leveled out in as many ways as they can.
Mathews started out by giving a brief overview of the budget activity from 2015-2016. He noted that, while assets went up, liabilities also went slightly up; however, all of this “balances out.” At the end of the last school year, Transy’s endowment was standing at $167.2 million.
“We are always trying to grow this,” Mathews said of the endowment.
The spending rate of the university’s endowment was at 5.97%, which dropped down relatively significantly from 6.63%. Mathews explained, though, that the university is aiming to reach a 5% spending rate, which is considered “prudent,” over the course of the next few years.
One thing that has shown up in the budget over the last few years is a trend in reduced enrollment. For example, there were an estimated 1,024 full-time students enrolled at Transy during the 2015-2016 school year, but the current year only has approximately 930 full-time students enrolled.
Also, especially with all of the recent construction projects that have been undertaken recently, Transy is currently operating under a deficit. One of the ways that the university will compensate is by decreasing student aid until it is no longer in a deficit.
Transy will additionally be increasing the tuition cost for students as a way to increase revenue through student fees. It has yet to be determined how significant this will be, but students who chose to lock in their tuition payment will remain unaffected by the increase.
Though they have had little effect on the budget itself, the 2016-2017 budget reflects a decrease in study abroad numbers, as well as May term travel courses tending to cost less. However, it is in the works to change the policies for study abroad so that the university can make money off of the program instead of losing money. The policy change will involve changing how much of a student’s Transy tuition payment will carry over to their study abroad university.
Utility consumption has also decreased significantly as a result of energy conservation methods, such as the “Last Out, Lights Off” stickers that can be seen in the bathrooms of various dorm buildings.
Looking ahead, the plan is to have a 4.1% increase in tuition and fees next school year, with 3% of that being from an increase in the cost of room and board. There is also an expected 2% increase in salary for staff members.
As far as the new health insurance plan goes, Transy will switch providers in January, going from Humana to Anthem. Health costs are an estimated $300,000 below budget, which could be a direct result of the health improvement in the staff. This extra money can be used to offset premium increases in the future.
The new Anthem plan will also include LiveHealth Online services. This service gives customers the ability to have medical conditions diagnosed and medicines prescribed over the phone.