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Western approves operating budget with $2.2 million deficit

Minimum 3% increase on student tuition, fees

The Western Washington University Board of Trustees approved a 2023-24 annual operating budget with a $2.2 million deficit at a June 9 meeting.
The Western Washington University Board of Trustees approved a 2023-24 annual operating budget with a $2.2 million deficit at a June 9 meeting.
By Hailey Hoffman Visual Journalist

Western Washington University has approved a 2023-24 annual operating budget with a $2.2 million deficit — much less than the anticipated $10 million deficit.

The university projects $221.5 million in expenditures with $219.3 million in expected revenue, with $2.2 million being covered by reserves, university administrators said at a June 9 Western Board of Trustees meeting.

The approval follows the announcement of a 3% budget cut in March across campus, due to a loss of federal emergency relief funding and continued declining enrollment.

More than $96 million in revenue will come from tuition payments and $116 million from state appropriations.

The university expects to continue a post-pandemic enrollment decline from 14,747 in fall 2022 to 14,715 in fall 2023, according to a June 8 budget discussion. 

Western will raise annual operating fee and capital building fee rates by 3% for resident undergraduate students and 3.5% for non-resident undergraduate and all graduate students in the 2023-24 school year.

The increase equates to $212 more for resident undergraduate tuition for a total of $7,270 annually, and an increase of $874, totaling $25,838, for non-resident undergraduates. The new rate was also approved by the Board of Trustees at a recent meeting.

Tuition has steadily raised at Western for resident undergraduate students since the 2016-17 school year (when tuition dropped by 14% from past years). In the past seven years, tuition has raised by nearly 19% from $6,116, according to data from Western’s Office of Strategy, Management & Budget. For non-resident undergraduate students, tuition has gone up by nearly 29% from $20,060 in 2016-17.

At the June 8 board of trustees meeting, administrators shared information about new investments from institutional funds.

“These are items that have been historic programmatic needs or key investments that have not had the recurring budget behind them to put them on stable ground,” said Faye Gallant, the assistant vice president for strategy, management and budget, at the meeting.

Gallant said the university has committed to funding the Honors College for $400,000 annually, as in the past, it has been funded differently each year based on enrollments. The Office of Equity — established in 2022 — will receive $110,000 for continued operations. 

Western will also invest $126,000 in student advising in an effort to increase retention, and $250,000 in student recruitment to increase enrollment, specifically for those from outside Washington.

Gallant also discussed institutional investments for operations. More than $2 million will support gaps in programs and cover institutional commitments within academic affairs. 

More than $193,000 will support software licenses, such as Zoom, Microsoft and the university’s captioning software. Gallant said money requested from the state for this purpose was not granted; the university has to fund it with tuition revenue. 

The university has allotted $100,000 to supplement the stipends for the hundreds of graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, Provost Brad Johnson said. 

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