University Relations and Communications

Budget estimates show MSUB enrollment woes primary issue

December 8, 2014 



Aaron Clingingsmith, University Relations & Communications, 657-2243 


Enrolled students at MSU Billings has fallen 10 percent since 2010.


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES —  It’s been four years since Montana State University Billings saw its record high enrollment of 5,335 students.


a faculty member with a student at MSUB

Today, Montana’s third largest institution serves 4,781 students. The drop in enrollment is a fraction over 10 percent and returns MSUB to numbers not seen since the start of the previous decade.


“Understanding our 10 percent decline in student enrollment can’t be emphasized enough,” remarked first-year Chancellor Mark Nook.


In a message to faculty and staff earlier today, Nook announced that the initial FY 2015-16 budget estimate yields a revenue gap just over $4 million, approximately 10 percent of MSU Billings’ general operating budget.


“You can quickly see how the 10 percent decline in enrolled students has echoed through our FY 2015-16 budget forecast in the form of a 10 percent general operating budget shortfall.”


As a state supported institution of higher education it is important to note there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to forecasting a definitive working budget. But make no mistake, the biggest woe MSUB has to overcome is enrollment.


Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, Terrie Iverson, has held the top fiscal position at MSU Billings for more than twenty years, witnessing first-hand the ebb and flow of university budgets. 


“Given how early we are in the budget process, we must stay focused on what we as a university can control,” Iverson said. “What we can control right now is our expenditures.”


Senior campus leaders will be holding a series of campus-wide Budget Briefings to inform and engage students, faculty and staff in finding a solution to the roughly $4 million shortfall.


Briefings will be held throughout the spring semester and summer until the university reaches a balanced budget.


“We have held these types of briefings in the past but never this early in the budget process,” noted Collins. “Starting the process in early December instead of mid-February – when we typically start to look at next year’s budget – will certainly give us more time to make the strategic fiscal decisions necessary to resolve our revenue gap.”


Communication with key internal and external stakeholders will be an integral part of MSU Billings’ budget process. The university’s Budget Office maintains a website for communication but this year they are in the process of developing a separate site solely focused on FY 2015-16 and beyond.  University officials intend to have the site finished by the end of the week.


“We are a university committed to meeting the educational and professional goals of our students, Nook said.  “During the budget process we must first and foremost minimize the impact on our students and invest in their long-term success.”


In order to keep this commitment to students MSUB will:

  • Work diligently within its shared governance process and current contracts
  • Involve and engage the entire campus community in balancing its budget
  • Ensure strategic reductions and reallocations are not unilateral or opportunistic

For more information, contact Director of University Relations & Communications, Aaron Clingingsmith at 657-2243 or