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November 26, 2020

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Regents OK budget cuts that could trigger faculty furloughs, new student fees

UNLV Campus View

UNLV Photo Services

This file photo shows a view of the UNLV campus.

The state Board of Regents approved cuts for the Nevada System of Higher Education on Friday that could save $125 million in spending but bring additional student fees and faculty furloughs.

The budget reduction comes after Gov. Steve Sisolak last week ordered state agencies to reduce their budgets in response to the expected economic downfall caused by the statewide shutdown from COVID-19 concerns.

The system would cut $27 million in the 2020 fiscal year, and between $41.8 million and $97.4 million in the 2021 fiscal year.

The system will cut at least 6% from the budget for fiscal year 2021 by leaving positions vacant, enacting a hiring freeze, and repurposing and reducing operating costs. Additionally, regents voted to send two scenarios to Sisolak for deeper cuts — between 10% and 14% of the budget — that would include temporary staff furloughs and student surcharges.

Salary and benefits for faculty and staff make up around 80% of the state budget allocation to the system. The duration of the furloughs would depend on the total cuts in the final proposal — for a 10% budget cut, staff would have six furlough days a month, coming out to a 2.3% reduction in pay. 

There were no furloughs proposed for the 2020 fiscal year or for the option of only 6% cut in the 2021 fiscal year.

In the scenario for a 14% cut, students would have to pay a per-credit surcharge of $6 for undergraduate classes and $8 for graduate classes at UNLV and UNR. Students at Nevada State College will pay $5 for all classes, and community college students would pay $3 per credit.

“If we did not apply furloughs and the temporary per-credit surcharge, we could be facing hundreds of layoffs, which would adversely affect student services and student success,” Chancellor Thom Reilly said.

UNLV Interim President Marta Meana said that student surcharges are always a last resort, but stressed, like Reilly, the system and school are working to avoid layoffs.

“These are difficult budget reduction scenarios with very significant impacts, but our approach avoids layoffs which would only add to the state’s ailing economy,” Meana said.

The system also expects to receive about $60 million from the federal government’s stimulus package to be split between student financial aid and institutional support . UNLV will receive $23.7 million, UNR will receive $14.2 million, College of Southern Nevada will receive $14.1 million, Truckee Meadows Community College will receive $3.3 million, Nevada State College will receive $2.8 million, Western Nevada College will receive $1.4 million and Great Basin College will receive around $470,000.