Additional funding to be used for operations

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

The $5.6 million Eastern is set to receive from the Illinois Board of Higher Education will be used to manage the university’s funds and for other operational expenses.

According to the Chicago Tribune, members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education recently approved giving $17 million to Eastern, Western Illinois and Chicago State University.

Eastern would receive $5.6 million of this, while Western would get $8.4 million and Chicago State would receive $3 million.

The $5.6 million would be used for operations such as employee payroll, which costs the university about $6 million a month, Paul McCann, interim vice president for business affairs said.

It would also cover any deficit the university has for the rest of the year, McCann said.

“(The money) will just help us manage our funds better,” he added. “We’ll have a little bit more money to deal with.”

In an email, Eastern President David Glassman said Eastern will continue to manage its finances through the next stopgap appropriation, or full appropriation if a state budget is enacted.

Eastern was slated to receive $26.2 million from a stopgap budget passed in June. So far, the university has vouchered for  $24.9 million of that stopgap, with another $1.3 million yet to be received.

“We haven’t vouchered all that yet because it’s utilities,” McCann said. “We’re waiting to accumulate enough dollars to do that.”

After this stopgap and funding from the IBHE, the university will have the rest of the tuition funds.

The university’s reserves are still at the same level as they were at the beginning of the year- about $3 million.

McCann said the university is trying to get the amount of money from the state as high and as close to the $42 million the university would get if a budget was passed.

According to the Chicago Tribune, to receive the money, universities were required by state law to show their fiscal status was at a “financial emergency” to receive the money.

Universities also had to show their cash flow statements, cash management strategies, pending debt payments, and an analysis of possible use of restricted funds, the Tribune wrote, but McCann said Eastern has not used restricted funds.

“We provided the information IBHE requested, basically cash flow information,” McCann said.

Eastern also showed how they have enacted furloughs and layoffs, and other ways the university has been saving and managing its money.

McCann said the university is “not necessarily” in a financial emergency, but that was the definition they had when working with current legislation.

“That’s the question- what is a financial emergency?” McCann said. “The law doesn’t define that.”

McCann said it was attorneys who reviewed the information and said Eastern could proceed with its case.

The university provided financial documents to the IBHE, Glassman said, and they determined it was eligible for additional funding.

Though cash flow showed the university could make it through the year end, McCann said they would need to go back through the legislator and deal with the budget again for the following year.

However, McCann and Glassman both said they do not think the funding will affect legislators’ movement on higher education funding.

“Eastern, like each of the other public universities, will continue our strong advocacy to the General Assembly and Governor for stable and predictable funding of public higher education,” Glassman said.

Though the funding was approved, it is unknown when universities will see the funding, as according to the Chicago Tribune, the $17 million approved Wednesday comes from the state’s general funds, which are deep in the red.

McCann said the money will have to be requested before Dec.31, and will be vouchered in a manner similar to the stopgap budget.

 

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]