ORANGEBURG, S.C. – South Carolina State University is considering budget cuts and a hiring freeze as the school deals with declining enrollment that has left the university looking at a $5.5 million deficit.
The university had projected an enrollment of about 4,200 this year, although the actual number of students attending this fall is about 500 fewer.
Eric Eaton, vice president of finance, on Wednesday proposed a freeze on hiring and an across-the-board 7 percent budget cut to get the institution back on track. The school’s budget committee will consider the ideas at a meeting later this month.
Eaton said the cuts and freeze would leave the university $366,000 ahead at the end of the budget year.
He said looking forward to the next academic year, the university will pursue fund raisers and programs to boost enrollment. This year’s enrollment at the historically Black university is the lowest in five years.
“The challenge will go out to everybody,” Eaton said. “We will tighten up and put ourselves in a position to ride out this year.”
Eaton said the hiring freeze will save about $4.2 million, while closing or consolidating dorms that are not full will save another $150,000.
He has also proposed reducing the number of cellphones issued to university employees. Last year the school spent about $300,000 on cellphones. “I don’t know if all that was necessary,” Eaton said.
Eaton said the school should also eliminate $1.6 million set aside to match a federal grant for the Clyburn Transportation Center, noting the school is not in position to fund it.
He added that salary cuts will also be considered.
“If anything moves around here, we’re going to be looking at it to determine whether or not it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.