Ted Carter BOR 2.11

President Ted Carter speaks during the Board of Regents meeting at Varner Hall on Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Legislature heard today from University of Nebraska system president Ted Carter and NU community members, who spoke in favor of the University’s request for a 3% increase, or $679.7 million in state funding for 2023-24.

The hearing, held by the Appropriations Committee, comes as record inflation and declining enrollment widens the gap between fiscal stability and the mounting costs of running NU. In the last five years, NU has cut $75 million in spending to combat recent challenges such as the pandemic, inflation, and lowered enrollment.

“Even if our request is met in full, we’ll have to look inside and tighten our belts,” Carter said. 

Despite the fiscal “headwinds” NU faces, Carter was firm in his stance on keeping tuition affordable for students. 

“We will not balance our budget on the backs of our students,” said Carter.

This sentiment was shared by the student representatives who spoke in favor of the proposed budget, including UNK Student Body President Emily Saadi. It was the university’s affordability, Saadi said, that allowed her the freedom to participate in the school’s clubs and student government rather than spending that time working to pay bills.

University representatives expressed concern over a looming “enrollment cliff,” brought on by declining birth rates after the mid-2000s. They estimated the enrollment falloff will become significant around the year 2027, and will fall in the 5% range. 

Despite the challenges ahead, university representatives were optimistic of NU’s ability to propel Nebraska’s economic growth and to be the leading educators of Nebraska’s next professional generation. In 2022, a study by national consultant Tripp Umbach found that NU produces $9 of economic activity for every $1 of state appropriations given to the budget.