Higher education sees slight ongoing budget increase at the conclusion of the 66th Legislative Assembly

Higher education sees slight ongoing budget increase at the conclusion of the 66th Legislative Assembly

BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota University System (NDUS) now has its 2019-21 biennium budget after the 66th Legislative Assembly passed HB1003, allotting higher education $648.7 million from the state’s general fund for ongoing operations. The appropriation, which is a 6% increase from the prior biennium, aligns well with State Board of Higher Education’s (SBHE) needs-based budget request submitted prior to the legislative session. The budget will help to ensure North Dakota’s higher education environment remains strong, especially after the 17% budget reduction in 2017 that led to the elimination of nearly 700 FTE positions.

These general fund dollars account for only 25% of the NDUS’ total $2.55 billion operational budget. Another 25% comes from tuition dollars and 50% is funded with auxiliary revenues, state and federal grants, and other local revenue funds. The 2017-19 ongoing operational budget was $2.46 billion.

“We thank the legislators who worked hard to pass an overall balanced budget. We know it is not easy to look at all of North Dakota’s needs and their efforts are not unnoticed,” said NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott. “Higher education invests in knowledge and promoting the overall growth of knowledge for young people and adult learners. Higher education directly influences these learners as well as the workplaces that hire these workers. We work toward the betterment of the entire state and legislators across the state see the benefits of higher education in their own communities.”

The University system and its 11 institutions provide the state with an educated workforce ready to meet the challenges of an ever-changing work environment, provide outreach and continuing education programs for the state’s residents and businesses, and create and support employment opportunities through research, extension, and teaching activities, all of which provide economic benefits to enhance local and state economies. NDUS economic impact was $4.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2015, which is the most recent data available.

“We have a very good budget balance between capital and operating funds. We are very happy and encouraged that our employees, who have had to pick up extra work will now have a compensation package this biennium. We thank our employees, faculty and staff, for continuing to provide a higher education experience that sets the core for our students’ success,” said Don Morton, chair of the State Board of Higher Education.

The 2019-21 budget will have a direct impact on higher education institutions, employees, workforce initiatives, students and research. Some of the key successes during the legislative session that will help benefit North Dakota’s higher education system include:

  • Support for a compensation package that included an average salary increase of 2% the first year of the biennium, with a minimum and maximum amount, and 2.5% the next year in addition to sustaining fully funded health insurance for employees.
  • Sustain higher education funding formula that provides institutions with operating funds based upon successfully completed student credit hours.
  • $149.9 million state funds for critical capital projects, including Valley City State University’s Communications and Fine Arts building ($32 million) and NDSU’s Dunbar Hall ($48 million). These projects were first approved by the 2015 Legislative Assembly, but the state did not have the funds to devote until this biennium.
  • A nearly 13% increase in award levels for the needs-based state grant, increasing from $975 to $1,100 per semester.
  • $9.4 million Challenge Grant coupled with a 2:1 private sector match, which will provide $28.2 million mainly for student scholarships.
  • $42 million total student financial aid.
  • $2.7 million to develop and modify academic and technical offerings to meet workforce needs.
  • $6 million for skilled workforce loan repayment ($3 million) and skilled workforce scholarships ($3 million).
  • $3 million for a digital initiative to maintain and expand network infrastructure to enhance research capabilities.
  • $15 million for technology innovation research loans.
  • $278,000 for veterans’ assistance grants.
  • Enhanced the National Guard tuition waiver from 25% to 35% of tuition costs at NDUS institutions.