SCSU balances budget in search of enrollment rebound

ST. CLOUD — Over the past two years, the number of students enrolled in college has dropped dramatically. Fall enrollment across the Minnesota state system is down about 6.5%. At St. Cloud State University, fall enrollment is down about 12%.

President of SCSU Robyn Wacker says the fewer students created a big budget deficit for the university, but they were able to balance the budget thanks to federal stimulus dollars.

We had a deficit of $12.6 million for 2022. We have $11.8 million from the federal government for stimulus funds to cover that as one-time coverage, and we will use about $1 million that we have in reserve.

Wacker says spring enrollment at SCSU has rebounded and is down only five percent. She says early enrollment numbers for this fall look better, and students who may have put their studies on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic are starting to return to complete their studies.

Wacker says they also offered faculty and staff an early retirement incentive with about 30 people taking up the offer. They also don’t fill vacancies to balance the budget.

During the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students across the country have chosen to delay the start of their studies or put them on hold. Wacker says they are working to enroll these students. She says they are looking to new student markets in order to increase enrollment.

We are focused on bringing our high quality programs to the online market for adult learners. We have just launched our first MBA, we are admitting our first cohort in June and these will allow students to enroll six times during the academic year.

Wacker says SCSU is also trying to recruit students from other Midwestern states like Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.