Cornell tightens budget



Cornell University’s four state schools will soon increase tuition and decrease research opportunities in an effort to narrow the financial gap left after New York state cut higher education funding for this fiscal year.

The schools of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Human Ecology, Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Veterinary Medicine receive monetary assistance from New York. They will all experience the effects of the cut, Policy Advisor to the Vice President for Planning and Budget Rich Duell said. For the 2003-2004 fiscal year, Cornell incurred a $2 million funding cut, and the university anticipates similar cuts in the next three fiscal years, he said.

Duell said the current state of the economy combined with the low priority of higher education in New York have influenced this decrease in state funds.

“It’s a combination of economy and state tax policy and the way the state generally perceives higher education,” Duell said.

Yale is also facing financial problems because of the current economy. In the 2004-2005 fiscal year, Yale will be forced to reduce its staff and cut expenses in response to a projected $30 million budget deficit, Yale Provost Susan Hockfield said last week.

“The economy has put a lot of pressure on universities. Yale and others are affected more through the private sector,” Yale President Richard Levin said. “The schools that get state support are hit even harder.”

Cornell is currently re-evaluating its current fiscal plan and finding areas where spending can be decreased, Duell said. The university is also looking into other sources of revenue, such as increased tuition.

New York residents who enroll in Cornell’s state schools pay roughly half the tuition their classmates in the private schools at Cornell pay. Duell said the university does not want to increase tuition to the state schools to the point where this advantage is no longer a factor for applying students.

“The gap [in tuition between private and state schools] is narrowing as more pressure has been put on tuition — that’s putting more of a burden on students themselves and their families and challenging access to public schools,” Duell said.

Last year, Yale began to feel similar pressures to monitor tuition increases after it increased tuition by 4.5 percent — the greatest increase in a decade, Levin said.

“I am conscious that we shouldn’t rely too heavily on tuition increases to balance our budget,” Levin said.

Cornell officials will also cut research projects and outreach missions to compensate for the lack of available funding. But this cut will have little effect on Cornell students’ educational opportunities because the projects mainly benefit external groups and organizations in New York, Duell said.

“One objective we make is that if the state cuts funding, we try to preserve instructional effort at the expense of research,” he said.

Marissa Fernandez, a Cornell sophomore in the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a New York resident, said she thinks the government cuts are unfortunate.

“The state taking away funding is detrimental to two major benefits of Cornell — one being the excellent research. and two being the considerable amount of financial aid given to in-state students applying to state colleges,” she said.

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