The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Friday approved a conceptual general fund operating budget for fiscal year 2014, which uses internal cost savings to cover a tuition freeze and other student fee cuts.

The budget also includes investments in academic programs, increased allocations for faculty promotions, modest merit increases for the West Lafayette and North Central campuses, and budget reductions at the Calumet and Fort Wayne campuses.

The proposal now moves to the board’s Executive Committee, which will take a final vote on the plan following a public hearing on proposed tuition and fees Wednesday, May 22.

”This budget proposal was designed to keep Purdue affordable for students and families, ensure the continued high quality of a Purdue education and use internal savings to cover the frozen tuition at West Lafayette and balance the budgets at the regional campuses,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

The conceptual general fund budget of $1.24 billion system-wide for the coming academic year was drafted after the state approved its biennial spending plan. The state appropriation of $244.8 million is 4.7 percent above the $233.8 million appropriation for the last biennium.

”We appreciate the state’s increased investment in Purdue and the support shown through the performance funding formula that recognizes the progress we’re making in meeting strategic state goals,” Daniels said.

One area of investment over the next biennium will help fund a dramatic expansion in engineering faculty, with an estimated $25 million recurring investment in faculty, staff and facilities by the end of the biennium. The primary goal is to hire about 30 new faculty per year over five years. The engineering expansion is in response to the growing student interest in engineering careers and a national call for more engineering graduates. The Krannert School of Management also is slated for expansion.

”Almost half of Indiana’s finest high school students are choosing Purdue, an unprecedented phenomenon. We’re making the grade on quality and affordability,” Daniels said. “We are determined to keep a Purdue education within the financial reach of every family.”

In approving Purdue’s general fund budget, which supports educational and base operating expenditures, the trustees endorsed the following spending plans for fiscal year 2014 which at the West Lafayette campus will be a 2.1 percent increase to $1.011 billion.

Al Diaz, executive vice president for business and finance, treasurer, said the spending plans will cover increased operational costs, such as employee benefits, fuel, utilities, insurance and plant expansion, which are expected to increase a total of $2.5 million on the West Lafayette campus in fiscal year 2014. The plan also calls for a 1 percent merit salary increase at West Lafayette that will cost $5.2 million.

Student tuition and fees account for 62 percent of Purdue’s general fund budget. Purdue’s resident tuition and fees currently rank ninth out of 11 public Big Ten universities and sixth for nonresident students.

The general fund, which supports the university’s academic mission, represents only a portion of the university’s total system-wide operating budget. The full operating budget totals more than $2.38 billion for fiscal year 2013 and includes the general fund; sponsored programs; gifts; and revenue from residence halls, athletics, other auxiliary income and university-funded financial aid.

The total operating budget for fiscal year 2014 is not yet finalized and will be presented at the trustees’ September meeting for approval.

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