By Grace Purvis
Eighty-nine percent of Rider’s total $220.2 million revenue in the fiscal year 2016 was made up of tuition and fees, according to a discussion on the state of the university’s finances on Oct. 11.
Vice President Finance and Treasurer Julie Karns met with The Student Government Association (SGA) to talk about Rider’s finances, discuss where money is going and explain how the university tries to efficiently handle its funds.
According to Karns, it is not uncommon for a university to have most of its revenue be from tuition.
“While having a percentage of revenue being from students is not unusual, we really need to focus on making students’ experiences at Rider enjoyable,” said Karns. “Students are the operating force behind Rider, especially with finance.”
The 89 percent of revenue from tuition equates to $165.8 million of the total revenue, the largest portion of the total $220.2 million. Auxiliary enterprises, which include room and board, among others, are the second largest, at $37.8 million.
The greatest operating expenditure in the fiscal year 2016 was from scholarships issued, which made up $67.9 million of the total operating spending of $222 million.
The second-largest expense of the total operating spending is instruction at $63.4 million.
Instruction includes budget and grants for departments, teaching, programs and centers, funding for choirs, study abroad and faculty development.
“Instruction is all of the faculty, everything that happens from the classroom up to the academic apartments,” said Karns. “So, if you are the chair of the English department, you have an operating budget for supplies and conference attendance, so everything from the chairperson to the classroom is instruction.”
The smallest contributor to operating expenditures is research, taking up just $1.6 million of the total revenue.
Karns said that there are several things that the finance department does to make sure that they’re investing students’ money in things that are substantial.
“We do a lot of social media, branding and advertising,” said Karns. “I always say I work for Rider, a poor but proud university.”
Jen Boyer, a sophomore digital media major and SGA member, can already see the effect Rider’s financial situation is having on students and hopes there is a brighter future in store.
“I think Rider should lower the tuition rate to improve [the situation],” said Boyer. “The current financial rate is majorly affecting the students, especially students without scholarships. Some of my friends had to leave Rider because of financial problems.”
Rider has also seen a substantial jump in projected deficits, going from $7.6 million, which eventually became a $3 million operating budget deficit, for fiscal year 2016 to over $10 million in 2017.
“There are a number of contributing factors that go into having such a big decline,” said Karns. “Enrollment decline along with the factor of more students choosing to live off campus have made a big impact, with housing causing a decline of $1 million itself.”
Karns said that when making financial decisions, Rider will seriously consider students and their families.
“We aim to impact our students as little as possible,” Karns said.
Additional reporting by Alexis Schulz