Officials discuss how to spend budget surplus

“Eastern will have a surplus of $5.8 million dollars by the end of this fiscal year in June of 2010,” said John Lumm, Eastern Michigan University’s chief financial officer.

The surplus exists because the budget was built when more students were expected to enroll at EMU than did. The enrollment was much higher this year, and this unexpected surge in tuition revenue has provided EMU with a $7.2 million dollar budget surplus.

“The State of Michigan is expected to give us $2 million more than was budgeted. The $7.2 million dollars from the tuition surplus and the $2 million dollars more from the state gives Eastern $9.2 million dollars surplus,” said Susan Moeller, American Association of University Professors president and EMU professor of finance.

“The increase in enrollment results in a $3.4 million increase required in the financial aid budget so the result is $9.2 million minus 3.4 million or a $5.8 surplus. This surplus is on top of the surplus from last year which was $1.6 million dollars,” Moeller said.

Last year’s surplus of $1.6 million dollars plus the surplus of $5.8 million dollars by the end of this fiscal year will equals $7.4 million dollars. According to EMU President Susan Martin, the $1.6 million dollars from the past year is “due to the continuation of the fiscal restraint and oversight initiatives enacted previously as well as the additional revenue achieved through our successful effort last fall to obtain additional credit hours with a 5,000 credit hour challenge.”

“Given that our academic departments are suffering from a terrible lack of funding, let’s hope that the Eastern Michigan University’s administration uses some of this surplus of $7.4 million dollars to remedy the underfunding soon,” Moeller said.

It is not known how the surplus funds will be utilized. Some people think it should be spent on departments while others think the money should not be spent unless EMU does not receive the $2 million dollars from the state.

The surplus affects students as it could be used to fund financial aid, scholarships or departmental programs. On the other hand, it would give EMU financial security to save the funds, in the event that the state imposes budget cuts next year.

“I think the money could be used to help the Science department and to fix Strong building,” said Stephanie Simon, an EMU senior and premed student.

Danielle Moorer, an EMU freshman interested in health studies, agreed. “The money should be spent on the science complex,” Moorer said.

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