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It has been an exciting start to the fall semester at UCF. We have so much to be proud of already.

I am proud of how our staff and faculty members are working harder than ever to support our students, despite $77.2 million in budget cuts the past two years. Thank you for your dedication to our students and university.

During the past few weeks, I have received many questions about how UCF is handling the budget. Some of the most frequently asked questions are below, and I hope my responses help answer any questions you have.

For additional information, click here to watch a video message from UCF President John Hitt. Visit the Budget Resource Center for budget details and updates.

Will there be more budget cuts this year?

For more than two years, we have taken a proactive approach to the budget crisis. Through strategic use of reserve funds, reducing expenses and the hard work of our staff and faculty members, UCF has weathered the financial storm better than many other universities.

We are pleased that there seems to be a degree of budget stability. We have not been told that additional state-mandated budget cuts are imminent.

Unfortunately, as the past two years have shown, economic circumstances can change quickly. But at this time we believe “no news is good news” in terms of further cuts this fiscal year.

What does enrollment growth mean to the budget?

Despite the economy, UCF remains committed to our goal of growth with quality. Part of the university’s mission is to provide opportunities for a high-quality education, research and community experience to qualified students.

With our fall freshman class setting academic records and graduate enrollment at an all-time high, UCF’s growth is fueled by high-achieving students.

Enrollment growth has a direct financial benefit as well: UCF will see about $5 million in additional revenue thanks to our growth. These funds will directly help colleges and divisions as they manage state-mandated budget cuts.

How are colleges and divisions planning for the future, specifically when federal stimulus money disappears?

UCF is using federal stimulus money to preserve jobs that otherwise would be in jeopardy due to budget cuts. A portion of the stimulus money is being used to help phase out the programs we previously announced will be eliminated or suspended.

Our first task is to prepare a university budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year that reflects the loss of federal stimulus money. I have directed colleges and administrative divisions to begin planning for how to address the budget shortfall that will occur when the stimulus funds disappear.

However, we also are working on a long-term plan that would lessen the impact of the loss of stimulus funds by providing colleges and divisions more time to replace those one-time funds with recurring tuition revenue. I hope to be able to tell you more about this developing plan in the very near future.

Our goals are to preserve as many jobs and programs as possible and to ensure the continued academic success of our students.

How can I learn more or become more involved?

The university is committed to an open and transparent budget planning process. I urge you to contact your department chair, supervisor, dean or vice president with questions and suggestions. I also welcome your feedback and look forward to hearing from you.

As the budget process moves forward, I will continue to regularly communicate about what is ahead for our university. Once again, thank you for your dedication to UCF.