State colleges take revenue hit from coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has cost the University System of Georgia about $200 million, losses that could add up to $350 million by the end of the summer, system Chancellor Steve Wrigley said Tuesday.

The state’s 26 public colleges and universities have done some belt tightening to help offset income lost when the system was forced to switch to all-online instruction and refund student payments for housing and other services they’re no longer receiving, Wrigley told members of the system’s Board of Regents.

The schools have canceled both camp and study abroad programs this summer, as the system will continue to be limited to online classes during the summer semester, Wrigley said.


Also, the university expects to receive about $125 million from the U.S. Department of Education through the federal economic stimulus package Congress passed late last month, he said.

“Hopefully, that can help us address the revenue losses we’ve seen,” he said. “[But] there will be challenges.”

Wrigley noted the university system also faces financial constraints that predate the outbreak of COVID-19.

State funding of students per capita has declined about 35% since the Great Recession a decade ago, the chancellor said. More recently, slower-than-expected growth in state tax revenues has prompted Gov. Brian Kemp to order budget cuts throughout state government.

Despite the system’s tight finances, the regents voted unanimously Tuesday not to raise student tuition during the coming school year. Wrigley announced last week he would seek to hold the line on tuition across the university system for the third time in the last five years.

“We felt it was important to be sensitive to the economic situation in our state,” he said.

In other business, the chancellor announced the university system will delay a planned overhaul of its undergraduate core curriculum, probably until this fall. He said the coronavirus outbreak prevented a series of town hall meetings that had been planned across Georgia to gather feedback on the proposals.

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