The University is currently predicting a $5.4 million deficit for the 2019 fiscal year based on conservative estimates of revenue, said Provost Richard Locke P’18 at a University Resources Committee forum Wednesday. But this estimate does not guarantee that the University will be in debt at the end of the year; Brown typically uses conservative estimates, and “in the last few years, we have more or less been operating on a balanced budget,” Locke added.
Each year, the URC hosts informational open forums to solicit Brown community feedback on the allocation of the University’s budget. The URC is responsible for proposing an annual operating and capital budget to the President, according to its website.
Locke used the forum to desmystify the budget allocation process, from its timeline to the University’s multiple revenue sources and costs.
Locke first listed sources of revenue for the University’s $1.1 billion budget. “The University is a very tuition-driven university compared to our peers,” he said. Locke mentioned that approximately 13 percent of the budget comes from the University’s $3.9 billion endowment. Locke also stated that other sources of revenue include the Brown Bookstore, rental properties, sporting events and direct fundraising.
Locke then focused on University expenditures. “The biggest chunk of the budget goes to … Education and General” purposes, he said. This category includes “the faculty salaries, the staff salaries, the operations.”
“Over 70 percent of all the money that we spend goes toward people,” Locke added. “Budgets are a reflection of University values,” he said, highlighting that “We have been investing tremendously in this University to increase diversity.”
On the subject of the University’s priorities, Locke said that Brown “is fully committed to need-blind admission and … is trying to meet the full cost of attendance.” As a result, financial aid and work study form a significant portion of the budget, Locke said. “On average, tuition and fees go up around 4 percent a year and the financial aid budget goes up around 7 percent a year.”
The University has increased stipends for graduate students, Locke said. Transitional stipends — meant to cover the costs of moving to Providence — amounting to $1,500 were introduced this year, he said. In the coming year, the University is planning to increase funding for graduate students who have children or dependents, Locke added.
Attendees raised concerns that graduate student unionization would increase costs for the University. Locke does not expect unionization to increase costs since the University has already recently increased graduate student stipends, he said. The University has also approved an increase in stipends for graduate students in the biomedical sciences, Locke added.
Jordan Kei-Rahn ’21, an undergraduate representative of the URC, told The Herald, “We’re going into the budget deliberation process and it’s always good to hear other perspectives.” Community feedback is important to the URC “to make sure we are not expanding unequally, but equally” and to allow “everyone to have funding and support,” he added.
The budget for the following fiscal year becomes official “in February, after the corporation votes on the budget,” Locke told The Herald.