Fewer students mean a smaller budget at IPFW – a nearly 3 percent cut to be exact.
The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Friday approved a spending plan for fiscal year 2015 that includes a 2.9 percent decrease -- from $111 million to $107.9 million.
The spending plan approved by the Purdue board was the plan as submitted by IPFW.
Enrollment at the school is about 13,000, which includes full-, part-time and dual-enrollment high school students. IPFW is the fifth-largest campus in the state.
Purdue University provides administrative oversight of the regional IPFW campus, with students able to receive degrees from both Indiana University and Purdue, depending on the program. In February, lawmakers shot down legislation that would have designated IPFW as a metropolitan campus.
That would have meant not having to adhere to some regional campus rules, including a limitation on on-campus housing for students. Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, wrote Senate Bill 265 that sought to give IPFW more autonomy than the eight other regional campuses in the state.
Seeking new degree and doctoral programs are among the benefits the bill would have allowed – and some would argue more students.
“We're doing what we can to increase enrollment,” Stan Davis, interim vice chancellor for financial affairs at IPFW, said Friday. The school saw about a 4.5 percent drop in enrollment during the 2014 fiscal year.
“We've got a lot of things going, such as a tuition incentive program,” Davis said. The effort offers reduced tuition for students who left IPFW but are close to graduating.
“We have an honors program too, … but demographically things are changing. There just aren't as many people coming out of high school,” Davis said.
In October, IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein announced to staff the school would no longer host RiverFest. The event, along the St. Joseph River, included a mud run, a 5K race, music, food, rides, art and thousands of attendees.
It was a $4 million revenue shortfall – the result of declining enrollment – that prompted the decision to cancel the one-day event that had been held on campus for three years.
Before that announcement, in August, the school said it was scaling back it's free lecture series because of skyrocketing speaker fees. The series is equally underwritten by the English Bonter Mitchell Foundation and IPFW's operating budget. Some lectures also are partly supported by minor sponsors.
Earlier in 2013, IPFW officials announced an $8.4 million shortfall that resulted in laying off workers and not filling vacant non-teaching positions, among other budget cuts.
Officials say the campus has historically been underfunded compared with other regional campuses.
Banks said the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership has commissioned a study of regional campuses and independent public universities inside and outside the state.
Banks and others hope the findings help IPFW's case for independence.