CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A number of the state’s colleges and universities have less than 60 days of cash on hand, state Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Paul Hill told state lawmakers Monday during interim committee meetings at the state capitol.
According to auditors, ‘number of days of cash’ is one indicator of overall financial health with 60 days being a “good number” to have have in reserve, Hill said.
The chancellor showed a slide to members of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance that showed West Virginia University, Bluefield State, Concord University, Glenville State and West Virginia State University all under the 60-day mark.
“We’ve seen some improvement at West Liberty, Glenville and Marshall in improving their financial stability. Others are stable and others have continued to decline,” Hill said.
The hit in reserve funds can be linked to a 21 percent reduction in state funding over the past five years. The state’s colleges and universities received $309 million in state funding in fiscal year 2013. That’s down to $245.5 million this fiscal year, a $64 million reduction.
Hill said the schools have made millions of dollars in cuts and increased tuition to make up the difference. He said tuition this fall was 75 percent higher than in 2008. The average higher education tuition in West Virginia is now $7,488.
A lot of students continue to receive federal financial aid through the Pell Grant but Hill said the increased tuition has resulted in the money not going as far.
“They’ve (Pell Grant awards) come up about $220 in the past few years but tuition and fees have come up about $1,400 in that same time line. So the bars are shrinking for the impact that the federal Pell program has,” Hill said.
Hill said even with the spending cuts and reduction in state allocation “higher education has done its job.” He said over the past three years the state’s colleges, universities and community and technical colleges have broken the previous records of number of degrees earned per year. There were 18,500 degrees awarded during the past year.
Hill asked lawmakers Monday for an additional $16 million for higher education for next fiscal year’s budget including a restoration of $4.5 million in student success programs, $10 million for deferred maintenance and $1.36 million to fully fund the required state match for the federal land grand status for West Virginia State University.