University of Minnesota leaders review dismal outlook for budget as COVID-19 disruption continues

University leaders presented a dismal outlook for the 2020-21 budget on Thursday.

Board members went over budget projections, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ripple impact the pandemic will have on the upcoming school year. But what next school year could look like remains largely unknown.

"Freshman class, my gut reaction, we are going to be down," said Vice Provost Robert McMaster. "Right now we are down 9 percent."

The university's predictions for the fall semester are fragile, with officials expecting fewer international students and more regionally-based students -- mainly within Minnesota and Wisconsin.

One of many critical unknowns is how many students will want to live on campus, buy meal plans, and parking versus living and studying from home.

Much of that depends greatly on whether the university's Board of Regents decides to move forward with classes fully online, in person, or some sort of hybrid.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel and her team presented the core budget recommendation on Thursday and two frameworks for contingency budget plans.

One based on reduced operations continuing into the fall semester and the other based on reduced operations through the entire fall semester.

Hundreds of pages’ worth of other topics were covered with discussion points including tuition freezes or reductions, hiring freezes, or even furloughs.

Quite everything is being considered including, as students, staff, and events are phased back to campus, what that could look like from masks to many more Zoom calls for all.

Discussion among the Regents continued all day on Thursday and will continue Friday. No decisions will be made until next month and the public has up until June 2 provide input.

You can view the full presentation by clicking here.