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Budget Recommendation Committee recap

Details on one-time allocations, direct student support and HSI/MSI CARES Act funding, plus a helpful new budgeting tool.

By Lindsey Coulter

December 14, 2021

MSU Denver sign on the side of the AES Building.Friday’s meeting of the Budget Recommendation Committee began with an overview of institutional-level, one-time available funding sources and investments.

Cost containments during the Covid-19 pandemic and several infusions of one-time federal funding have allowed the University to allocate more than $73 million toward a variety of multiyear initiatives. This amount includes approximately $29.3 million from the General Fund, approximately $2.2 million remaining from the CARES Act from fiscal 2021 and the remainder from Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II and III.

George Middlemist, Ph.D., associate vice president/chief financial officer, explained that in recognition of the significant financial impacts of the pandemic, MSU Denver can apply these federal funds to cover lost revenue with limited restrictions on use or timeline. Additionally, to allow greater flexibility in the use of HEERF funds and to help institutions better meet student needs, the U.S. Department of Education has released guidance clarifying that colleges and universities can claim lost revenue against their HEERF grants. The Budget Office, in coordination with the Controller’s Office, will continue to monitor the lost-revenue dollar amounts.

While Metropolitan State University of Denver is taking the opportunity presented by the pandemic to make strategic improvements, there will still be a system of accountability to ensure that each branch and area successfully implements funded initiatives and to evaluate return on investment. This will include post-funding review and a semiannual report to the Office of the President and the Senior Leadership Team.

Investments in students

The meeting also covered three recommended strategies for investing and spending the student portion of HEERF III funds (which cannot be allocated to lost revenues and are subject to the more typical federal restrictions). The first outlined detailed allocations directly to students, with amounts scaled to financial need. The second strategy would devote approximately $3.55 million to a variety of student-success and retention programs and initiatives. The third strategy focuses on emergency loans.

Hispanic-Serving Institution summary

Since June 2020, MSU Denver has received more than $5.6 million from the HSI/MSI CARES Act funding as a Covid-19 grant. The funding must be primarily used for direct student support in the form of grants to eligible students but can also be dedicated to technology, pedagogy and accessibility needs as well as operations and programming. Thus far, the University has invested in online tutoring and teaching, expanding learning-assistant and teaching-assistant programs, bolstering the Transfer Peer Mentor program, increasing Spanish translation across the MSU Denver website and more.

An estimated $2.4 million will be allocated this spring for teaching assistants; Association of College and University Educators cohorts; the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Fellows program; the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity training; and continued Spanish-translation efforts. Remaining funds will be assigned to lost revenue through the General Fund, and a final reconciliation of all spending will be completed at the end of all of these projects.

“We’re looking at building our budget so we’re not just talking about one-year allocations but really thinking one, two and three years out,” Middlemist said.

To that end, the budget team worked with Academic Affairs to create a FY 2022-23 Budget Request Template that allows for one- to three-year budget projections and hiring projections for faculty and staff users. Middlemist encouraged offices that are beginning their budget process to use the template and to seek support from the Budget Office as needed.

BRC meetings will continue again in January.

Topics: Funding, Strategic Planning

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