University President Bob Kustra gave his President’s Address at 10 a.m. on August 21. While the Jordan Ballroom was nearly full, students seemed reluctant to spend any of their last precious hours cooped up listening to a long speech. So you don’t miss out, here are the three things from Kustra’s speech that students should be thinking about.
Enrollment: According to Kustra’s address, there has been a dip in high school graduation rates across the country. While Idaho is one of the few states where high school graduation rates still rose, Kustra hinted that Boise State might already feel the effects of the national trend.
“Enrollment projections are not going in the way we’ve become so accustomed to here at Boise State,” Kustra said. “We’re still beginning still beginning seems contradictory to me to see this issue, in fact later on, early in the term, when we announce our enrollment there’s a good chance that you’ll see there’s been a dip.”
The Effect of Student Debt:
It’s no secret that student debt has climbed in recent years. Kustra cited statistics saying that today, in the United States, there are 37 million people with outstanding student loan debt. He also said that 77 percent of students of on the Boise State campus receive some form of financial aid assistance in order to pay for rising school costs.
“There’s no question that if you look at tuition it’s jumping,” Kustra said. “As tuition jumps, it forces students to borrow more. And of course tuition is jumping because of declining state support. This is a vicious circle.”
The cost of education has caused some students to choose alternatives other traditional four year degrees and raised worries about the long term stability of traditional universities. Boise State received a strong rating in April 2013 from Moody’s, an independent ratings agency. However it shows little of what could happen in the future.
“I’ve read a rating based on the past,” Kustra said. “Not today, not the future.”
Governor Butch Otter has tasked all state agencies, including higher education, to focus on zero base budgeting. What that means is that everyone goes back to the base of the budget and looks at each expenditure, not just the changes, in order make sure that every expenditure is still appropriate. While the theory seems sound, Kustra foresees some issues with zero base budgeting.
“It’s very time consuming, it’s very expensive and in the end you really don’t achieve great results, at least in my estimation,” Kustra said.
So rather than implementing traditional zero based funding, the higher education sector in Idaho adopted what is called “program prioritization.”
“What does that mean?” Kustra said. “Let’s rethink old budget decisions, let’s make sure they make as much sense today as they did then. The focus on the effort will be to identify programs in need of improvement. We’re not going back to examine the whole base.”
For more information on what program prioritization means for Boise State see “” on page…